person walking through a forest

The Road Not Taken

by Robert Frost

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Structure of the Text

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The structure of “The Road Not Taken” combines traditional techniques with Frost’s modern touches. Further, the structure makes use of particular end stops and an ABAAB rhyme scheme. 

End-stopped lines: Frost uses semicolons, commas, dashes, and periods to end stop particular lines. For example, important end-stopped lines appear in the third stanza and add to the gravity of the poem. The third stanza has two lines that are end-stopped with periods, adding a feeling of finality to the stanza and highlighting the speaker’s understanding of the futility and finality of his decision. Another example of a powerful end-stopped line can be seen in the third line of the final stanza. The line ends with a dash that separates the repeated word “I.” By using this dash, Frost emphasizes a separation of self before and after making the decision to take a certain path while also showing hesitation before making the final decision. 

Rhyme Scheme and Meter: The cadence of “The Road Not Taken” can be analyzed on two levels: the rhyme scheme of the stanzas and the metrical cadence of the individual lines. Each stanza is defined by the ABAAB rhyme scheme, which causes the poem to slow and gives readers a feeling of deliberation when reading the poem. The individual line is built on iambic tetrameter, a four-beat meter. Every beat has one unstressed and one stressed syllable, which creates an down-and-up cadence when reading through a line. The poem’s iambic tetrameter and ABAAB rhyme scheme form a distinct rhythmic cadence that is halting yet potent in its delivery. 

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