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The Road Not Taken – Robert Frost

This poem can be called the most unbreakable riddle in English literature. The poet was a traveler. After a long distance, he stops at an intersection from where the road forks into two. Both the roads appeared equally promising so the poet stands there for a long time, confused.

After reading this poem, try to find answers for the following questions:

  • Did 2 roads crisscross at a point or did just 1 road diverge/split/fork into 2?
  • Road not taken – taken by the poet or by the majority?
  • Better claim – whose claim? The poet or the travelers?
  • Which road was taken by the majority? The poet is silent about it!
  • There are two kinds of sighs – one of relief and another of grief. What was the poet’s sigh?
  • What difference did the poet’s choice make – success or failure?
Stanza 1

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

Explanation

  • The poet was a traveler. On his way he happened to reach a diversion – left or right?
  • We do not know if there was a signboard or not. However, the poet stopped there for a long, long time.
  • He studied both the roads and found them equally good. One was overgrown with undergrowth like bushes and shrubs while the other was grassy.

Meaning

  • Diverged – Separated; forked
  • Yellow wood – An autumn forest
  • I could not travel both – I could not take both the roads
  • Be – Being
  • One – Single
  • Looked down – Looked ahead
  • Undergrowth – Bushes that grow under the trees.

Questions

  1. Where did poet stand confused for a long time?
    The poet stood confused at a junction from where a road diverged to two roads.
  2. Why was it difficult for the poet to decide his further journey?
    It was difficult for the poet to decide his onward journey because the two roads that lay in front of him appeared equally promising and equally in leaves and equally trodden.
  3. Which line suggest that the poet loved to travel both the roads?
  4. Describe the first road.
    The first road that the poet considered to take for his further journey was a very long road with bends. The road went through an open landscape with trees on both sides yet not a forest. The road bent and trailed off far away in the undergrowth.

Multiple Choice Questions

  1. Yellow wood refers to…
    1. The poet’s confused state of mind,
    2. Autumn season
    3. A forest that had trees with yellow leaves only
    4. All of the above
  2. The first road bent into …
    1. Grass
    2. Undergrowth
    3. Trees
    4. Leaves
  3. The poet could not take both the roads because…
    1. He didn’t like the second one,
    2. He didn’t like the first one,
    3. He didn’t like undergrowth
    4. He was just a single traveler
Stanza 2

Then took the other, as just as fair, (a)
And having perhaps the better claim (b)
Because it was grassy and wanted wear, (a)
Though as for that the passing there (a)
Had worn them really about the same, (b)

Explanation

  • The second road was different from the first road as the poet got positive vibes from the second road.
  • The second road looked more grassy and less walked therefore the poet was wanting to go on the second road.

Meaning

  • Took – Considered
  • Fair – Smooth/welcoming/promising
  • Better claim – Better choice (of the poet)
  • It wanted wear – The second road was less used by pedestrians
  • Passing there – Walking by that road
  • Worn – PP of wear. Use, walk on, etc.

Questions

  1. How was the second road different from the first?
    The second road was different from the first road as the poet got positive vibes from the second road. The second road looked more grassy and less walked therefore the poet was wanting to go on the second road.
  2. “And took the other, as just as fair, and having perhaps the better claim.” What is the better claim?
    The better claim is  that the poet thought that taking the second road would be more beneficial for him.
  3. What specialty of the two roads were equally appealing to the poet?
    The specialty that was appealing the poet was that the two roads were inviting the poet equally.
  4. What makes you think that the poet was a man after adventures in life?
    The poet was adventurous as  he decided to take more difficult and more lonely path even though he had a safer road to walk on.

Multiple Choice Questions

  1. “Then took the other” means…
    1. The poet chose the second road,
    2. The poet considered the second road,
    3. The poet chose the first road,
    4. The poet considered the first road.
  2. ‘Having perhaps the better claim’ means…
    1. People generally claimed that road,
    2. The poet wished to take that road,
    3. The second road was smooth
    4. The second road was rough.
  3. Out of the two roads…
    1. The first one was taken by more people,
    2. Both were taken by same number of people,
    3. The second one was taken by more people,
    4. The poet traveled by both the roads.
Stanza 3

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

Explanation

  • Apart from this, the two roads were equally laden with heavy layer of fallen leaves. This added to his difficulty in making the choice.
  • The specialty that appealed to the poet was that the two roads were inviting the poet equally.
  • Being a man who loved risks, the poet decided to take more difficult path even though he had a safer road to walk on.
  • It was yellowing autumn season. Having lingered undecided for a long time, the poet took the road that appeared to have less traveled by people.

Meaning

  • Both – The two roads
  • That morning – The morning when the poet reached the junction
  • Trodden black – Trodden is the V3 form of tread. Tread means walk.
  • Knowing – Knowing that one can come back to the other road

Questions

  1. How did the two roads appear equally promising to the poet?
    For the poet the two roads appeared equally promising for two reasons. The road that bent into the undergrowth through the woods was…
  2. What was the poet’s doubt regarding his onward journey?
    Although the poet knew the universal fact that each road leads on to…
  3. Although the poet was doubtful about his onward journey, he knew something for sure about the nature of roads. What was that?
  4. What did the poet doubt before taking the second road?
Stanza 4

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.

  1. What would be the nature of the sigh that the poet expects while telling his story ages and ages hence?
    Hints – A sigh of accomplishment… a sigh of relief.
  2. Which road did the poet finally take?
    The second road.
  3. What is the autobiographical aspect of the poem?
    Hints – The poet’s decision to migrate to England…
  4. The poet discusses the crisis of selection. Explain.
  5. Who shall the poet be telling about his choice?
    The poet shall

Multiple Choice Questions

  1. The poet wrote the poem…
    1. Before his choice
    2. Many years after his choice
    3. Soon after his choice
  2. The poet will tell about his choice…
    1. After a long time
    2. Now
    3. After some time
    4. Never
  3. “Less traveled by…”
    1. The poet
    2. Other passers-by
    3. None of them
    4. Ambiguous / Can’t say

What do you think?

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