This paper explores the theme of choice in Robert Frost’s poetry, specially three of his poems which are ‘Stopping By Woods On A Snowy Evening’, ‘The Road Not Taken’ and ‘Two Tramps In Mud Time’. One of the best-loved American poets of all times, he worked as a teacher, cobbler, editor and finally farmer for eleven years in New Hampshire. The variety of professions he undertook clearly show their influence in his poems. Apparently, he was not very successful as a farmer but his love for nature is evident in a lot of poems of his. This takes us to ‘Stopping By Woods On A Snowy Evening’ – a very beautiful poem. The choice that the narrator of the poem faces is between stopping in the ‘lovely, dark and deep’ woods and going on to fulfill the promises that he has to keep. There is nothing to stop the narrator from pausing in his weary journey and stop to enjoy the dark woods. The owner won’t know he is there and the horse can do nothing but snort. Yet the narrator takes the path of responsibilities which he has to shoulder. This proves the poet’s conviction that between responsibilities and pleasure ,it is responsibility that takes the precedence. In the second poem ‘The Road Not Taken’ the choice faced by the narrator is both clear and obscure. On the surface level it is the choice that a traveler has to take between two roads diverging from a focal point. On a higher level the roads represent the choice every individual faces sometime or the other in his life- the choice of a career, the choice of a life partner (if very crudely put) and all big and small choices man makes in his journey through life. The narrator never makes it clear whether he is satisfied with the choice he took. The only hint we are given is the sigh and the sentence ‘and that has made all the difference’. We never know what difference is he talking about- whether he considers himself better or worse than what he was before. He is sorry he could not travel both the roads and had to choose one. He says he ‘kept the first one for another day’ in spite of knowing that he may never come back seeing how one road leads to another and so on. This is what happens in everyone’s life when he as to choose between two equally unknown paths ( or even equally known paths as the case may be).
One never knows whether the decision he is taking will prove to be good for him in the long run or will leave him with regret at not having chosen the other thing Still he has to make a choice and this is the irony of life as portrayed by the poet. The theme of choice is comparatively clearer in the third poem-‘Two Tramps In Mud Time’. The poet talks about the choice between doing a work you like (say, your hobby) for the sake of pleasure and for the sake of pay. The narrator faces a choice between cutting the log of wood himself (which he is doing solely for the sake of pleasure) and giving this work to the two ‘tramps’, who are actually unemployed lumberjacks who don’t like seeing him do that work for mere pleasure which is the means of earning their livelihood. But here the author doesn’t comply. He has already made his choice and that is to unite both the alternatives open before him. He concludes his poem saying that his purpose of life is to unite his ‘vocation’ and his ‘avocation’ just like ‘two eyes make one in sight’. The poem tries to maintain the theme of equilibrium amidst all conflicting opinions. He says that only when work and play is one, can a deed be said to be done for a higher good. However, this union , this balance between choices , as in most cases, is very difficult to achieve. Thus, we see how in all the three poems, the poet has touched different aspects of the theme of choice and has formed different conclusions in all three. It is left to the discretion of the reader which path he decides to take. The only thing that the poet makes clear is that whatever choice the reader makes, he must be ready to live with the consequences of his decision till the end of his life.