What "momentous decision" was made by Robert Frost in 1912?

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shake99 | Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

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Robert Frost’s poem “The Road Not Taken” is a classic work. Taught in schools across the United States, it uses symbolism to examine the effects of decision/indecision on the speaker’s life. It seems natural to assume that it was written in response to the poet’s own struggle with some sort of decision.

The poem was first published in 1916 as part of a collection called Mountain Interval. Whether or not he was thinking of his own decision-making history is up for debate; however, it is true that a few years earlier Frost had to grapple with a choice that defined his future.

In 1912 Frost was a failing New Hampshire farmer as well as a part-time poet. This was the year that Frost and his wife decided to give up farming and jump all the way into the poet's lifestyle. They pulled up stakes and moved to England, where Frost met many other poets and successfully set his career on the path to immortality.

Perhaps this was the momentous decision that Frost had in mind when he wrote “The Road Not Taken.” The lines that open the final stanza of the poem might express his feelings about the potential consequences of his decision:

I shall be telling this with a sign

Somewhere ages and ages hence

He knows that the internal conflict caused by a major decision does not end when the decision is made. There will always be the question of “what if?” to consider.

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