The greatest challenge is stating the problem in a way that will allow a solution.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Travelling Through Life

                                      The Road Not Taken

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveller, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

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,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I--
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference

...Robert Frost

The literal meaning of this poem by Robert Frost is pretty obvious. A traveler comes to a fork in the road and needs to decide which way to go to continue his journey. After much mental debate, the traveler picks the road "less traveled by."
The figurative meaning is not too hidden either. The poem describes the tuogh choices people stand for when traveling the road of life. The words "sorry" and "sigh" make the tone of poem somewhat gloomy. The traveler regrets leaves the possibilities of the road not chosen behind. He realizes he probably won't pass this way again.

There are plenty literary devices in this poem to be discovered. One of these is antithesis. When the traveler comes to the fork in the road, he wishes he could travel both. Within the current theories of our physical world, this is a non possibility (unless he has a split personality). The traveler realizes this and immediately rejects the idea.
Yet another little contradiction are two remarks in the second stanza about the road less traveled. First it's described as grassy and wanting wear, after which he turns to say the roads are actually worn about the same (perhaps the road less traveled makes travelers turn back?).

All sensible people know that roads don't think, and therefore don't want. They can't. But the description of the road wanting wear is an example of personification in this poem. A road actually wanting some as a person would. However: some believe this to be incorrect and believe "wanting wear" is not a personification, but rather older English meaning "lacking". So it would be "Because it was grassy and lacked wear;".