The Timeless Significance of Robert Frost’s “The Road not Taken”
How it works
To answer the question of whether or not Robert Frost’s “The Road Not Taken” should be included in Literary Canon and useful in a general survey course such as American Writing, one must first look at the author and the content of the poem itself.
Robert Frost was born in California in 1874 where he lived until he was eleven. At age eleven, upon the death of his father, his family moved to New England. In 1912, Frost moved his family to England and this is where he worked on his poetry and found a publisher for his first book (Baym, p.
“The Road Not Taken” is a poem written by Frost in 1916. Frost wrote this poem partially in jest to tease his friend Edward Thomas, whom had a habit of bemoaning the paths that he had not taken while out on walks with Frost. Despite the benign circumstances with which Frost wrote “The Road Not Taken”, Frost’s poem is a great illustration of what we must do at each major intersection of our lives, make a decision as to which path we will travel down. This is again depicts the two directions as equal, but shows that one must be chosen while the other be “kept for another day (Baym, p. 1887).”
Here Frost is alluding to the fact that by taking the “one (road) less travelled, it made all the difference (Baym, p. 1887).” The fact is that we never can really know what difference there might have been had we chosen one path over the other. So this poem leaves one to ponder after that thought.
Now that we have looked at the author and the poem, we can answer the original question as to whether or not this work belong in Literary Canon and useful to a general survey course such as American Writers. The answer is yes, yes it does. Frost created a timeless treasure that can withstand the age of time and never lose its usefulness. Whether intended or not, “The Road Not Taken” has become one of the most revisited, and renowned poems. It is a poem that is applicable to every person at some point, for we all must make choices. I first was taught about and read this poem many years ago in elementary or middle school, so long ago. How relevant it was, with the infinite possibilities of youth ahead of me, and yet re-encountering the poem now, I find that it has lesson I could not then fathom. A prime example is the irony and sadness in the third stanza, which applies to me in many decisions, but particularly that of my forsaking college to marry and care for my children. At that time, I would have said that college was a chore, a responsibility that, when stacked with my other responsibilities, would have been too hard, and yet I find myself on that path now, and I realize, maybe it would have made the rest of my path easier if I had taken this path earlier. Then again, maybe it wouldn’t have, but the one certainty, is that it did undoubtedly make all the difference.