Background Info
Read Poem
Language Features
By Robert Frost
• Author: Robert Frost
• One of the most famous and well-loved American poets
• Frost’s crowning public moment was his recitation of “The Gift
Outright” at John F. Kennedy’s inauguration in January of
• Date: 1921
• Setting: New England, USA
• Characters: “I-narrator”
• Point of View: first person (see above)
• What is the story?
Narrative Voice (look at your notes)
Characters (look at your notes)
Setting (look at your notes)
• As with most poems, there are many ways to interpret the story.
#1, Literal: a traveller picking a path through the woods
The speaker stands in the woods, considering a fork in the road. Both
ways are equally worn and equally overlaid with un-trodden leaves.
The speaker chooses one, telling himself that he will take the other
another day. Yet he knows it is unlikely that he will have the opportunity
to do so. And he admits that someday in the future he will recreate the
scene with a slight twist: He will claim that he took the less-travelled
#2, Metaphorical: the story is a metaphor for an individual choosing a
path in life. Let’s look more closely at this interpretation.
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,
The decision was made upon the smallest of
differences. Suggests, once again, that our
decisions are arbitrary.
1. Implies that there can be
little outward indication of the
consequences of our choices.
2. Little to no difference
between the two choices.
Identifies the struggle and
uncertainty that can
surround the choices one if
forced to make in life. He is
not really sure that he has
made the right decision—he
will never know for sure.
Seems to say one choice is
better than the other. He
seems to contradict himself.
Shows the confusion he
feels—the ambivalence he
feels as he is confronted
with choice.
No difference, once again.
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.
This contradicts the previous
stanza as the paths have
suffered no wear and the
leaves are fresh. This
communicates a sense of
excitement to the responder—
this particular journey is
unique. What is a Stanza?
Naivete/optimism that the
traveller could return to this
point to take the first path.
Excitement, or trying to
convince himself.
Contradicts the previous line and
suggest the incremental, cumulative
nature of life’s journey that cannot be
retracted or undone.
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
Reinforces a sense of loss.
Sense of the circular nature of
journeys in that difference
decision points in the process
of journeying are revisited.
Repetition: the sense that
there will be plenty of time
after the choices he makes
and that much of his life still
lies before him.
What does that contracdict?
Repetition: of the frist line.
Reflective comment
bookends the poem.
Definitive: change in tone.
Did they make all the difference
Is he trying to convince himself again?
Or, is it the act of making a decision that is most important thing?
What were the other options?
He could’ve stayed there at the fork. He could’ve chosen the first path.
Is it the path he took that made all the difference, or just that he took any path?
• Repetition
• Metaphor
• Imagery
• Rhythm
• Rhyme Scheme
• Onomatopoeia
The rhythm of the poem is irregular—there is no fixed
beat. Conversational. Reflects the uncertainty of the
poem’s content.
The Rhyme Scheme is very regular. ABAAB in every
stanza. Maybe hidden under life’s apparent
randomness is an underlying pattern—a
structure that carries us forward and directs
us. Does that make our choices less