person walking through a forest

The Road Not Taken

by Robert Frost

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Analysis of poetic devices, rhyme scheme, and the speaker in Robert Frost's "The Road Not Taken."


In "The Road Not Taken," Robert Frost employs imagery and metaphors to convey themes of choice and reflection. The poem's rhyme scheme is "abaab," forming a cinquain structure. The speaker's choice of paths symbolizes life's decisions, with both paths equally worn, challenging the notion of a "less-traveled" road. Frost's use of autumn and morning represents change and new beginnings, even later in life.

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What poetic devices does Robert Frost use in "The Road Not Taken"?

Paying attention to the imagery in "The Road Not Taken" actually reveals a meaning that some readers miss. People have a tendency to want to believe that they have led the more difficult lives and have made the more difficult choices in the various metaphorical forks in the road of their own lives. And perhaps that is why this poem is often misinterpreted.

The speaker uses imagery in the first stanza to help readers envision the choice:

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood

Two things are significant in the imagery here and are important as metaphors. The speaker isn't following his own path but a road. This is a path carved out by someone else, which follows the natural contour of the land. Many people have traveled this road before and many will follow; that's why it exists. Also important is the imagery inherent in yellow. This is autumn, a time of change—and also the beginnings of death in nature. The speaker is facing a season of change. The imagery at the end of this stanza sets up the choice he makes:

And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth

The initial path he examines has an uncertain path. Covered by "undergrowth," the road turns and he can't tell where that destination will end.

So he takes the other road, which doesn't exactly support the more difficult choice. Check out the imagery when the speaker initially makes the choice regarding which path he will take:

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

The path he chooses is "fair," covered in grass (not rocks and boulders) and is inviting. Also important is that the two paths are worn equally. This is not the less traveled road. It is as equally traveled as the road he doesn't choose.

The speaker reinforces this idea with the imagery at the beginning of the third stanza:

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.

Neither road shows the clearly less-traveled path. Both are covered in leaves which have not been disturbed.

Also notice how the language shifts to reflect an almost archaic and fanciful tone at the beginning of the final stanza:

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:

"Shall," "hence," and "ages and ages" has the same feel as "Once upon a time." The speaker slips into this almost fanciful language to remind the readers of the fantasy he has created about the "difficulty" of the path he has chosen.

The imagery and language Frost uses conveys a message that people often want to retell the glories of their most difficult choices and paths, but they fail (intentionally or unintentionally) the recall the accuracy in details of those choices. Also important is the fact that the title is "The Road Not Taken," not "The Hard Road I Took." The speaker tells "with a sigh" of his "road less traveled by," but all the while he is actually remembering "The Road Not Taken."

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What poetic devices does Robert Frost use in "The Road Not Taken"?

The previous educators have thoroughly outlined most of the poetic devices in the poem, but none have yet written about Frost's choice of meter.

Frost employs an "abaab" rhyme scheme. This is a cinquain, or a poem or stanza composed of five lines. Cinquains are seen in limericks, for example, though those poems employ a different rhyme scheme.

As one previous educator mentioned, the road is a metaphor for the different "paths" one may take in life. Both were "worn," meaning that many others had taken the same path, or made a similar choice in life. 

Frost's choice of "morning" and autumn are also metaphoric. One's autumn years indicate late adulthood. "Morning" indicates a new beginning. Even late in life, we get chances or opportunities to make life-changing choices. 

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What poetic devices does Robert Frost use in "The Road Not Taken"?

Literary terms and poetic devices allow a poet or author to enhance their writing. Examples include sound devices like alliteration or onomatopoeia and figurative language like metaphors and similes, which are comparisons that allow the reader to understand the subject matter on a broader scale and perhaps in terms the reader had not considered previously. Imagery is another kind of poetic device; it is used to embellish a developing mental picture that the reader can appreciate. Symbolism allows the reader to relate the poem to its real meaning rather than its literal meaning, and connotation allows the reader to make assumptions about the subject matter.

In “The Road Not Taken,” Robert Frost uses several poetic devices at his disposal. Alliteration is used subtly in "wanted wear" (the repeated w sound at the beginning of the words) and improves the musical quality of the poem. The poet creates an image for the reader of the paths which "equally lay / In leaves no step had trodden black." This creates a peaceful image at odds with the difficult decision the speaker is trying to make.

The poem is clearly intended to convey a meaning far beyond its immediate scope. The decision here is quite significant, and Frost ensures that the reader understands the implications of choosing a path. "I doubted if I should ever come back" would have anyone rethinking his choice. The reader can relate to the narrator. The road functions both literally and as a symbol or metaphor; in the context of this walk in the woods, the road is just a path, but the reader is led to believe that it represents something more important—perhaps a life-changing decision. The wood with its "undergrowth" can reflect the narrator's confusion: he cannot see far down either path, which makes his decision all the more difficult.

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What poetic devices does Robert Frost use in "The Road Not Taken"?

There are multiple poetic devices used in Robert Frost's poem The Road Not Taken.

In the first line, the poet used assonance. Assonance is the repetition of a vowel sound within a line of poetry. In the first line,

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,

the "o" sound is repeated in "roads" and "yellow."

In the eighth line,

Because it was grassy and wanted wear,

the author uses personification. Personification is the giving of human characteristics to non-human/non-living things. In this line, the path wanted wear. A path cannot want. Only humans can want. This qualifies as personification.

The poem as a whole is a metaphor. A metaphor is

a figure of speech in which a word or phrase is applied to a person, idea, or object to which it is not literally applicable.

The poet is, therefore, comparing the paths in life to the choices one must make when reaching a crossroads. The poem speaks of the actual choices in life as roads one must choose to take. Metaphorically, the roads simply represent choices in life.

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What poetic devices does Robert Frost use in "The Road Not Taken"?

Sound devices are techniques which lend a sense of rhythm to a poem. They include end rhymes, internal rhymes, meter, alliteration, assonance, and consonance, all of which cause emphasis to fall on certain words, syllables, or sounds in a poems.

"The Road Not Taken" seems perfectly simple and almost like casually spoken speech, but it is carefully structured. For example, it follows an ABAAB pattern of end rhymes. In the first stanza, for example, "wood," "stood," and "could" are the "A" rhymes, while "both" and "growth" are the "B" rhymes.

Second, the stress falls on the second syllable in each foot or pair of beats, but since each line has only nine syllables, the stress ends up falling on the rhyme at the end of the line, adding even more emphasis to it.

The poem also uses alliteration, or putting words beginning with the same consonant in close proximity, for example, in "wanted wear," and "lay/In leaves."

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What poetic devices does Robert Frost use in "The Road Not Taken"?

Figurative language is when words are used to convey an idea beyond their literal meaning, usually by way of comparison. Figurative language is fundamentally metaphorical, allowing us to understand one thing in terms of another kind of thing. In "The Road Not Taken," Frost uses an extended metaphor in which a fork in the road represents the decisions one makes on the path of life.

Indeed, the fork in the road is the poem's central metaphor. Just as a traveler walking in the woods must choose which paths to take, people must make choices in life, and these choices continually lead to further choices.

The poem further develops this metaphor by stressing that once a path is followed, it is impossible to go back to the original path. Having made up his mind to take the second road, the speaker says,

Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

That is, the speaker will have taken so many different routes that he cannot return to the original fork in the road. This aspect of the metaphor suggests the linearity of life. Just as a traveler will tend to continue onward in their journey, people cannot repeat the past or go back and change the decisions they have made in their lives.

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What type of literary devices does the speaker have [use] in the poem "The Road Not Taken"?

First, concerning Frost's "The Road Not Taken," the speaker doesn't "have" literary devices, he "uses" literary devices.

And the central literary device he uses is extended metaphor.  In literature, roads and journeys often symbolize the roads or journeys of life, and the speaker's use here is no exception.  The road the speaker chooses to travel is metaphorically compared to the road he takes in life, and the road he chooses not to take is metaphorically compared to the road he does not take in life. 

That said, the road the speaker chooses not to take is really the center of the poem itself.  The poem is about regrets concerning missed opportunities.  More specifically, the poem is about the speaker's obsession with missed opportunities.  He is indecisive and regrets not being able to take both roads, even though doing so is impossible. 

The speaker will tell the story years later, as a regret, a "sigh," perhaps a chuckle.  He doesn't know what difference his choice of road will make, and the roads are pretty much the same, by his own admission:

Though as for that [there being a difference between the two roads], the passing there

Had worn them really about the same,...

But in the poem's present he can see himself, having obsessed over the difference for years, telling listeners that a great difference existed.

Concerning other literary devices, the enotes Study Guide on the poem says the following:

Frost composed this poem in four five-line stanzas with only two end rhymes in each stanza (abaab). The flexible iambic meter has four strong beats to the line. Of the technical achievements in “The Road Not Taken,” one in particular shows Frost's skill at enforcing meaning through form. The poem ends:

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

The indecision of the speaker—his divided state of mind—is heightened by the repetition of “I,” split by the line division and emphasized by the rhyme and pause. It is an effect possible only in a rhymed and metrical poem—and thus a good argument for the continuing viability of traditional forms.

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What is the rhyme scheme of Robert Frost's "The Road Not Taken"?

Rhyme refers to the pattern or rhythm of sounds a poet creates in his/her poetry by using similar sounding words. A rhyme scheme refers to the recurrence of similar sounding words at the end of each line in a poem, thus creating a pattern. Rhyme schemes not only provide a rhythmical quality to the poem, but can also be used to accentuate an idea or thought or as a binding agent which creates unity in the stanzas or in the entire poem. Any deviation from the pattern would, therefore, place more emphasis on the line that is different.
When identifying a rhyme scheme, one should consider the end rhyme, i.e. the pattern of sounds repeated at the end of each line. Starting with the first letter of the alphabet, 'A,' one denotes the rhyme for the first line. Every first line will, therefore, be allocated an 'A.' One then determines whether the end rhyme of the first line is repeated and, if so, the same notation is used. After that, a line which does not repeat the same sound in its end is indicated with a 'B.' The process is repeated until the end of the poem, using the letters of the alphabet in capitalized form.
Using this method, then, one can see that the rhyme scheme in Frost's poem is ABAAB; CDCCD; EFEEF; GHGGH. Frost uses a very particular rhyme scheme that is quite original. He utilizes full rhyme throughout the poem with the exception of lines 17 and 20, where he uses half rhyme. It is obvious that the syllables at the ends of these lines do not rhyme perfectly: "hence" (line 17) and "difference" (line 20), unless one emphasizes the third syllable in "difference" and pronounces the 'e' as the first syllable in "hence."
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What is the rhyme scheme of Robert Frost's "The Road Not Taken"?

"The Road Not Taken" by Robert Frost is divided into four five-line stanzas, with the breaks between stanzas indicated by blank lines. The rhymes in the poem form a regular pattern, with each stanza having an identical rhyme scheme. The rhyme words occur at the ends of the lines, and are mostly regular in that they repeat both a vowel and a consonant sound. 

Literary critics usually describe rhymes by indicating the rhyme sounds with capital letters, with the first rhyme sound of a stanza assigned an "A", the second a "B", the third a "C", etc. When the same sound recurs, critics repeat the letter. Thus in the first stanza, one would label the rhyme scheme as follows (rhyme words italicized and labels bolded):

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,   A

And sorry I could not travel both         B

And be one traveler, long I stood         A

And looked down one as far as I could   A

To where it bent in the undergrowth;    B

Thus the rhyme scheme of the stanza is described as "ABAAB". 

All four stanzas of the poem use the same rhyme scheme, albeit with different rhyme words. The rhyme words are all the final words of the lines, and are thus known as "end rhymes". 

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What is the rhyme scheme of Robert Frost's "The Road Not Taken"?

"The Road Not Taken" was written using a format of four stanzas. Each of the stanzas has five lines in it. When you look for rhyming words in any one of those stanzas, you will see and hear that the first, third, and fourth lines end with words that rhyme with each other.

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood...

And be one traveler, long I stood

And looked down one as far as I could

The second and fifth lines of each stanza end with words that rhyme with each other, but not with the other rhyme contained in that stanza.

And sorry I could not travel both...

To where it bent in the undergrowth;

This rhyme pattern could be described as "abaab". Different pairs of rhymes are used in each of the stanzas, but the same pattern is present in all of them.

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Who is the speaker and the audience in "The Road Not Taken"? What is its rhyme scheme?

The poem consists of 4 stanzas.  Each stanza is written in ABAAB rhyme scheme.  That means that lines 1, 3, and 4 rhyme with each other, and lines 2 and 5 rhyme with each other.  

As for the speaker and the audience, it's open to interpretation.  

Some readers think that Frost himself is the speaker, while other readers think that the speaker is a faceless, philosophical unknown.  It doesn't matter either way to me, because the topic and theme of the poem doesn't change depending on who the speaker is.  The poem brings up universal truths about decision making, and who speaks them doesn't change their validity.  

I do not think the poem is addressed to any one, specific individual.  I also don't think that it has an intended group audience.  I think the speaker is simply voicing his thoughts "out loud."  I talk to myself all the time.  My wife likes to make fun of me for it.  But for some reason, the act of voicing my thoughts helps bring clarity to what is on my mind.  I think the poem's speaker is doing the same thing with his poem.  He is giving very specific thoughts and feedback on the nature of decisions and consequences.  He's not doing it for anybody other than himself. 

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Does Robert Frost's "The Road Not Taken" follow a predictable rhyme pattern?

Each stanza of "The Road Not Taken" follows this rhyme scheme: abaab. The poem is a metaphor about choices in life. The speaker notes that both roads looked "really about the same," even though he tries to convince himself that he took the less traveled road. The implication is not that he took the less traveled road. In the last stanza, the speaker, later in his life, notes that he will say he took the road less traveled. But he says this with a "sigh" and this indicates that he's only saying he took the less traveled road. The sigh also indicates that he will wonder where the other road/choice might have led him. 

In the last stanza, to keep the abaab rhyme scheme, Frost ended the middle line with "I" and "I" also begins the next line. This might have been a matter of idiosyncrasy and/or keeping to the rhyme scheme. 

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I--

I took the one less traveled by, 

And it has made all the difference. 

But, the repetition of "I" could be a parallel to the two roads/choices the speaker's metaphor addresses. The repetition also shifts the emphasis from roads to the speaker himself. This shift is notable because this poem is only metaphorically about roads; it is about personal choices. 

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