While reading any poem by Robert Frost one should always remember that the apparent simplicity of his compositions only serve to belie an underlying profundity and masterly subtlety. The poem deals with an archetypal situation using an archetypal image and its intricate nuances are often overlooked. A person is faced with a crossroad in life, a simple image that might connote a thousand different situations in reality. Think how many times in our life we are faced with a similar situation as delineated by Frost in the poem. How many times we have to choose one out of two roads. And how very often we convince ourselves of the wisdom of our decisions in choosing one road over the other when in the moment of the choice we do not have any superior knowledge to assist us to decide between the two. Because as Frost says, to the traveler standing at the crossroad, both the roads are equal, promising equal opportunities or dangers, and s/he is not really in a position to judge between the two. Both the roads are equally worn and equally grassy: “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.” Note that the poem also, very subtly, explores the theme of the opportunity lost forever, how our choices delimits our sphere of experience, for in spite of appearances the poem is not about the road the poet takes, the one which later seems to be the “less traveled by”.
One should keep in mind that as the title says, the poem is about ‘the road not taken’. However, Frost’s brilliance as a poet comes to the forefront when he delineates the inherent human need for romanticizing the past. The traveler while choosing one road over the other, knowing fully well that he might have just as well chosen the other one, predicts a future insincerity, when looking back from a vantage point he will sigh and declare that once, a long long time ago, standing at the crossroads of life, he had chosen the road that was “less traveled by/ And that has made all the difference.” Thus the poem gives beautiful expression to a profound truth of human life; it provides words for a feeling that all of us have felt at one point of time or the other. Frost’s poems are famous for their natural flowing rhythm so that reading the poem aloud with stresses on the right syllables is a great pleasure. One should note the perfect rhyme scheme (ABAAB) of each stanza and the harmonious distribution of four stressed syllables in each line.