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The similarities between these poems are quite striking – Both take place in or near woods, both dealing with the path or road, etc. The major difference – besides the obvious one that one traveler is on foot and one on horseback (or in a carriage?) is in the theme: Road Not Taken (1916) refers to life choices; the traveler is going outward into the world, while Stopping by the Woods (1923) almost certainly refers to Death, and the traveler is going home; add to this the time of year (Autumn vs. Winter), and the differences start to become more prominent than the similarities. In terms of poetic structure, Road is a five-line stanza with abaab for a rhyme scheme; Stopping is a quatrain stanza with an aaba rhyme scheme, with the last stanza aaaa, giving a finality to it. Also it should be noted that the stanzas lock together in their rhymes, the third line of one stanza rhyming with the a-rhyme in the next stanza – again giving a sense of order and finality). Finally, Road has an uneven foot while Stopping is iambic throughout (some critics equate it to the sound of horse’s hooves, although the horse has stopped). Road is much more enigmatic, almost contradictory (what does “all the difference” mean – good or bad?-- and if Frost is implying that he chose a poetic style “less traveled by” it would be a hard case for him to make). The moods of the two poems, then, are different – one reflecting on the past, the other describing a present moment.
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