What are the similarities between the poet Robert Frost and his poem "The Road Not Taken"?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

At least three similarities are apparent between the poet Robert Frost and the speaker in "The Road Not Taken": (1) leaving Vermont to go to England in search of a publisher for his poetry (having left farming only because of his grief over the death of his daughter at his farm in Derry); (2) choosing between two things, farming and poetry, perceived at one time as equally common and at another as unequally so; (3) choosing poetry made all the difference for Frost, for poetry allowed him to tame his mind and emotions.

The poem starts with the line "Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,...." Frost came to two roads diverging when, needing to make a living for his family and to leave his grief over Elinor's infant death behind him, he chose to seriously pursue a career as a poet, taking his family from rural woodland Vermont to England.

Stanza three ends with, "the passing there / Had worn them really about the same," (he says this despite the "undergrowth" at the bend of the path he did not choose). From his troubled circumstance in 1912, staying as a farmer or leaving as a poet may have presented equal perspectives to him; although "undergrowth" suggests a preference for the "grassy" way he did choose, which was England and an English publisher and audience. As an aside, one reason he opted for England was that he met with criticism from American academia because he wrote in traditional meter and rhyme instead of abandoning it for modernist poetic style.

The famous ending of this poem--published in 1916 in the collection Mountain Interval before Frost had won his first Pulitzer in 1924--says, "I took the one less traveled by, / And that has made all the difference." For Frost, his choice of taking the road of poetry did make all the difference because, as biographer Jay Parini said, his poetry, with its highly developed structure, allowed him to keep his demons of depression and self-doubt in check. It is at this point, the point of hindsight, that he confesses that the road he chose was indeed "one less traveled by."

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team

We’ll help your grades soar

Start your 48-hour free trial and unlock all the summaries, Q&A, and analyses you need to get better grades now.

  • 30,000+ book summaries
  • 20% study tools discount
  • Ad-free content
  • PDF downloads
  • 300,000+ answers
  • 5-star customer support
Start your 48-Hour Free Trial