I thought I would share with you a few thoughts on what the yellow wood could mean (in my soon to be 30 year old mind). I will also run explore this with my son and get his input. So, the man is confronted with the two paths, two choices. Many times our choices seem most apparent when we are experiencing a period of uncertainty in our lives, the choices seem most daunting when we are most unsure. We (or at least I) tend to see these choices as black and white (good and bad) at first glance. My feelings favor the easiest choice because, well, it is easy. Of course, when I further examine the situation, I realize that the "good and easy" path is not always the best, nor is it "good". So, the yellow represents the uncertainty that one feels when they are confronted with initial choices. Also the yellowing woods signal the end of summer, the end of a "green" and "safe" time of life, a time when we felt certain and sure of our path. It signals a new beginning. Make sense? I hope so.--Mandy
Funny you should post about this poem...last night I was trying to remember what words followed "Two roads diverged in..."! What comes immediately to my mind is that it is fall. --Beth
It could be that the leaves are starting to turn from green to orange signaling the beginning of fall; or perhaps the sun is in a position that makes the trees look yellow. Also could it be symbolizing the yellowing of time (like paper does) and getting older perhaps? How about the yellowing of time as we are presented with opportunities and we need to choose one direction in which to go? Just my 2 cents worth. --Ann
My first impression is that the leaves are turning yellow. I never have considered myself a deep thinker. --Patty
Well, my take on it - and this is from someone who has rarely read poetry and despised the unit on "explicating poetry" in high school English class -- is that it simply describes a wood in autumn (yellow leaves) -- reinforced by the line further on in the poem:
"And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black."
(Leaves lying thick on the path = autumn.)
I'll be interested to see what other possibilities there are. --Lori
The two roads were his path in life. His father wanted him to follow in his footsteps and be a farmer, but he decided to pursue his dream to become a poet. One road is an easy path in life and the other has more struggles but can be far more rewarding in the end. --Trinity
This Frost poem is one I have memorized, and yet I had never considered what the "yellow" might refer to. Thinking about it, I'd say it signifies change. Autumn is the season leaves change to yellow, then brown. Frost's poem is a melancholy remembrance (notice the sighs) of a decision he made which took his life down a new course, changed its direction from what it would have been had he taken the other path. I'm also remembering a line from one of Shakespeare's sonnets "That time of year thou mayst in me behold/ When yellow leaves, or none, or few, do hang/Upon the boughs which shake against the cold..." Both poems mention yellow trees and have narrators who are wise and mature in age. Is there something else there? --Stephanie
I've always visualized the woods in this poem to be a birch/aspen-filled place, with some pines there as well for deep darkness. So I think that "yellow" describes the woods as they look in the fall -- birch and aspen leaves turn a lovely yellow color. Some leaves are on the ground, but have not yet been stepped upon on the morning of the poet's visit; thus, not blackened by footsteps. --Beth
My son and I are just starting a poetry unit study. "The Road Not Taken" is a great poem! When I hear the first line, I immediately picture a forest of birch trees in the fall, so all the leaves have just turned brilliant yellow, with the afternoon sun shining through them to brighten them up even more. I glean a strong clue in the beginning of the third stanza "and both that morning equally lay, In leaves no step had trodden black"....having grown up in New England, I remember that birch leaves would darker soon after dropping, particularly after a cold, autumn rain.--Melissa
Feel free to disregard this since I'm putting my lit professor hat on. I love this poem, too, but it's not an easy one. Frost seems straightforward, but he's not, really. Especially "The Road Not Taken." Frost himself called this a "tricky" poem. (This is actually a poem about indecisiveness, which is why the title is "The Road Not Taken" rather than "The Road Less Traveled." The yellow wood, at least on one level, indicates fall, when the leaves turn colors. Since he later mentions that there are leaves on the roads that "no step had trodden black" it seems that this is the imagery of the season.
The poem was written for a friend of his, Edward Thomas (we know this because Frost wrote about it in a letter to another friend). Thomas was notoriously indecisive, wanting to show his American friend every kind of flora and fauna the English countryside had to offer. When they took any walk at all, Thomas was always lamenting what they had missed by taking one path over another, no matter how wonderful the walk had been. Frost, the stoic New Englander, didn't understand the practice of "looking back" or "regret." This poem was a gentle prod (he had great affection for Thomas, as did Frost's wife) at his vacillating English friend.
The poem says three times that the roads are the same, at least as far as the speaker can see--and then he makes an arbitrary choice to take one over the other. It is only later, he says, ("ages and ages hence") that he will make a story about this day and tell everyone he "took the road less traveled by/And that has made all the difference." When we leave him, he's still on the road, so he has no way of really knowing how things turned out.
Frost was nearly 40 before he could make a living solely as a writer. So while he never agreed to anyone's sunny interpretation of this poem, he wasn't about to ruin his reputation as a folksy New England poet, either. He was actually an early modernist, but his book-buying audience wouldn't have liked to know this.
Okay--I know this is often a spoiler for folks who love this poem, so again, feel free to ignore! --Melanie
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