Adding to Higginbotham’s Canon

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Updated: Aug 29, 2019
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“Poetry is a way of taking life by the throat.”- Robert Frost. Frost was born in San Francisco, but in 1884, his family relocated to Lawrence, Massachusetts (Poetry Foundation, n.d.). In 1894, the New York Independent accepted one of Frost’s poems, titled “My Butterfly,” and began his status as a professional poet by giving him a check of $15.00. (Poetry Foundation, n.d.) There are many works of literature that I feel should be taught in a college level American literature course. One of these works I consider imperative to learn is “The Road Not Taken,” by Robert Frost. “The Road Not Taken” is arguably one of Robert Frost’s most well-known poems. Along with the fame of the poem, “The Road Not Taken” is also very commonly misread, and is also a very inspiring poem. How famous the poem is, how much “The Road Not Taken” is misread, and how inspiring the poem is are three reason as to why I believe “The Road Not Taken,” by Robert Frost, should be added to Mr. Higginbotham’s canon for American Literature 252.

The first reason that “The Road Not Taken” should be added to Higginbotham’s canon is that it is very well-known in the world of literature. Frost wrote “The Road Not Taken” to mock the indecisiveness of one of his close friends, but Michael R. Little quotes William George by saying that there are some critics who have suggested that the work is a “poetic rendering of a doppelgänger experience by Frost (Little, 2017).” “The Road Not Taken” was published in August 1915, in The Atlantic Monthly (Britannica, 2017). The poem has been widely studied in all levels of schools since it was published and gained publicity. I, personally, have studied “The Road Not Taken” during my freshman year of college and in my sophomore year of high school. This poem is so famous, and so widely studied, that I believe it is important for it to be taught in all literature classes.

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The second reason that “The Road Not Taken” should be added is that it is very commonly misread. “’The Road Not Taken’ may be one of the most misread and misunderstood of all of Frost’s poems” (Little, 2017). When most people read the poem, they take it as Frost is using the two roads that split as a metaphor for difficult life choices. The last two lines of the poem state, “I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.” -Robert Frost. Frost suggest that by taking ‘the road less traveled,’ there will likely be a better outcome than there would be by choosing to go with the majority. In fact, there is nothing inside the text that suggest that there was a difference in either road. Frost never indicates whether there was a more positive outcome from taking the less common road; however, the majority of readers takes the poem literally by believing that by being different from the majority will produce a more positive outcome in their life.

The last reason that this poem should be included in Higginbotham’s cannon is that “The Road Not Taken” is a very inspiring poem. If the reader does misunderstand the true meaning of the poem, then there is a sense of reassurance to the reader. By not understanding what Frost is actually saying in the poem, the reader develops a sense of hope for the outcome of being different from the normal population. “The Road Not Taken” also instills a feeling of confidence in its readers by urging them to make a choice based on what is best for themselves instead of what everyone else says is the best decision.

How famous “The Road Not Taken” is, how commonly it is misread, and how inspiring the poem is are the three reasons that it should be added to Mr. Higginbotham’s canon for American Literature 252. This poem can be used as a very important life lesson. It can also be used as an example of how to look deeper into the meaning of other literary works. Although there are several poems already included in Higginbotham’s canon, none of those poems carry the same weight as “The Road Not Taken,” by Robert Frost.

Work Cited

  1. “Robert Frost.” Poetry Foundation, Poetry Foundation,
  2. George, William. “”Frost’s ‘The Road Not Taken.'”” Explicator 49.4 (Summer 1991): 230–232.
  3. Little, Michael R. “How to Write about ‘The Road Not Taken’ .” Infobase Learning – Login, 2017,
  4. Britannica, The Editors of Encyclopaedia. “The Road Not Taken.” Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., 16 Aug. 2017,
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