The poem is basically about a person who has at some point in his life been posed with a question of which path to take. Obviously, there would be a dilemma on his part and the poem revolves around his decision. Frost s narrative style has lent itself to a certain amount of ambiguity in what he is trying to convey.
This ambiguity that Frost has left the reader to contemplate is basically divided into two schools of thought. The first is that Frost has a regret for the choice that he has made and he is relating the hardships of that choice to the reader. The alternative is that he is simply trying to make a statement about life and harbors no regret towards the choice that he has made.
The first theme to be considered is that of Frost s analogy of one s life being put onto some sort of timeline and he has used roads to illustrate the idea of many possibilities. The use of nature in the same line Two roads diverged in a yellow wood gives an almost organic-like appeal. This helps us to integrate roads into the natural environment and it gives an impression that the decisions that we have to make are natural. The divergence of the two roads into the same place (a yellow wood) symbolises Frost s departure into the real world (because of the singularity in wood ). This could mean that the wood is being compared to the unknown world. Again, in the first stanza there is the start of the ambiguity in the very colour of the wood. A strong believer in the view that Frost has given a regretful tone to the poem will point out that there is a significance in the very colour of the wood. This is because yellow represents autumn time where the stigma is that everything around him is dying and because of life he still has to continue. Furthermore, there is the inclusion of the second line And sorry I could not travel both. This could mean that he is regretful because he will never know what the other path offered. On the other hand it could also be interpreted that it is plain curiosity which has led him to say this, not any regret for what he has failed to do.
Frost has used a clever illustration of the continuance of these roads to depict the uncertainty that life holds. The dilemma that he is going through is shown again by the usage of the roads and how at the beginning everything looked almost the same but upon minute inspection it showed that one was slightly better. This is conveyed to us by how much the path had been stepped on. However, this brings up another controversial aspect of the poem, does the path less trodden on really mean a better future? As previously mentioned, the future is uncertain so what looks promising today may not be tomorrow. At the end of the third stanza there is a very definite appeal to it because there is no way of going back, just like time.
Though he took the path that was less taken it could also mean that he took the decision that a lesser man would not have taken. In an almost boastful behaviour he says that I took the one less traveled by. Again, the ambiguous nature of the poem occurs in the last stanza. There are many reasons that people sigh, obviously the one that comes first to our mind is that of regret. However, in a more objective way it can also be seen that people sigh out of tiredness and maybe even pride. Yet again though, in the very same stanza the tone seems to be almost slowed down by the repetition of and I-I which leads us to believe that in some way he must be regretful if not the least bit curious of the other possible circumstance.
An alternative view, though offered to us by the line Somewhere ages and ages hence: hints that maybe he is accounting this a long time after he had made the decision.Also because of the boastful nature of the last stanza where he says proudly that he took the path others wouldn t he might be telling it to an audience such as his grandchildren. Now looking back at the first stanza with this view in mind it strikes us that the setting and the type of language used could be something of a children s story.
The last line of the fourth stanza And that has made all the difference. adds a finishing touch to a poem frought with ambiguities. In fact, it leaves more of a taste of a question than of a statement in the reader s mouth. Now looking at this last line it leads us to wonder if it is an ending on a positive note. The verdict? It is likely from all the views shared that there is a possibility for there to be one, possibly even a boastful one, but in light of the fact that Frost is recollecting this memory at the end of his life he must harbour some, maybe even remote feelings of regret about this decesion.
Everyone is on their own journey that leads them to their own destination in life. Every day is filled with choices that will lead us down different paths in our lives, and we are the only ones that can make a different in our journey of life. There are many paths that can be picked from, some of the roads we chose will be the right ones, and others will not be. No matter what Robert Frost really wanted the reader to get out of his poem, The Roads Not Taken, there are many different ways it can be interrupted. It all depends on how the reader understands and how they analyze the poem. No matter what a person gets out of the poem, the main concept of the poem is that it is the road that you chose that makes you who you are. After I had read the poem I thought about what roads I had taken and the ones I did not take up to this point in my life, I have thought about what if I had taken anther road, would I have been happy? The truth is the roads that I have taken have made me who I am, and for that I am glad.
All thought the poem the road not taken; Robert Frost uses many literary techniques to express the point behind the poem. The two points are, the dilemma behind making choices, and how the wrong choice can be filed with danger at not knowing where that one decision will take you, and then the one that says to take the road that is less traveled. It is hard to make the decisions that will affect your whole life, because you will always wonder if you have choices the right path. The speaker has no knowledge of what will happen when, but that he must make a choice.
One of the most common literary elements in the poem is symbolism; this poem is very symbolic because of the choice of what path to take. The path that needs to be chosen is not one that is just a path to walk down, but a path that will affect his life and fate. This shows us that every path we take will affect our lives in one way or another. Once you have chosen, there is now way to go back and.
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The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost describes a physical journey of insight and learning. It is the figurative journey of the human spirit, as we travel through life making choices and decisions. The Road Not Taken is a metonym for individuality and the expression of it. So as we read and respond to the text, we see the physical journey contained becoming metaphorical, a reflection on our own lives and values.
The poem’s rhyming scheme provides regularity and a sense of direction in conveying the persona’s physical journey. However the rhyming scheme differs from standard, indicating the unknown direction the persona will take, and reflecting the risk taking of non-conformity. We as responders are immediately placed in the same position as the persona, asked throughout the poem to consider which path we would take on the physical journey. The poem is set in an idyllic ‘wood’, a contrast to the real world the persona is a part of, the real world we as responders are asked to reflect on. We as responders are warned against procrastination as the steps in the decision making process are clearly defined “And sorry I could not travel both, And be one traveler, long I stood, And looked down one as far as I could” We are reminded of the reflection aspect of the physical journey, through the reference to ‘traveler’. As a traveler, one is concerned with the experiences connected to the physical journey, rather than the tourist who is concerned with the highlights of life.
The low modality “just as fair” indicates the choice of direction is life, expressing that individuality or choosing a different path is just as easy or acceptable as conforming. However the writer than states that the less travelled path may have “perhaps the better claim”, because in traveling anywhere you are setting a path for others to follow, thus making you a leader and setting you apart from the rest. We see the concept reinforced, because both paths “had worn them really about the same” as people traveling are taking more risks and accepting the leadership challenge.
The speaker expresses his regret about the decision he faces, realizing that he may not have this opportunity again. He educates us about the futility of journeys,
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Online self-help manuals offer advice on how to deal with what they call ‘grass is greener syndrome’.  What, they ask, can you do when it feels like your ex-partner, your other former lovers, even the passer-by you just glimpsed outside your window would all be preferable to the person you’re currently with? In essence, how do you deal with the feeling that you’re missing out on something better elsewhere? The problem, apparently, is that we struggle with commitment. We live between fantasy and fear. We’re always desperately searching for something more. The grass might look greener on the other side, but perhaps the syndrome is more to do with something in our own psyche that is askew.
My greener grass is somewhat different. My life so far has prepared me for a career in science: one stepping-stone has lead to another and I’m now towards the end of a doctorate in the Earth Sciences. I have been afforded a wealth of opportunities, significant time and money has been invested in my education, and people are expecting me to start applying for postdoctoral positions—to take the next step. But I don’t think I’m going to. What if I did something totally different? What if, when I’ve finished my degree, I left science for good? Truth be told, I’ve got a more specific question at the back of my mind. What if I studied Theology instead?
These ‘what if? ’ questions are the hallmark of ‘grass is greener syndrome’. In my case, however, they aren’t entirely out of the blue: what started five years ago as a sense of disillusionment about what science has to offer has grown into a deeply held interest in Philosophy and Theology. The physicist Erwin Schrodinger encapsulates my frustrations with science:
“I am astonished that the scientific picture of the real world around me is very deficient. It gives us a lot of factual information, puts all of our experience in a magnificently consistent order, but is ghastly silent about all that is really near to our heart, that really matters to us. It cannot tell us a word about red and blue, bitter and sweet, physical pain and physical delight; it knows nothing of beautiful and ugly, good or bad, God and eternity.” 
I’m fed up of the underground laboratory, the dark room, and the sterile concrete office; the endless computer codes, the pressure to churn out publications, and the desperately dry writing style. I long for something that is creative, relational, and deals in the values and motivations that drive people’s lives—the things that really matter. I yearn too for stacks of books, frescoed libraries and the chance to spend all day sitting and thinking about big questions. Surely this is the academic life I’m after?
This secret doubt about my intended career has been bubbling away for a while. At least once in the past I’ve bottled it back up and ignored it, but now, I think, I’m going to let it out into the open. And this is where the ‘what if? ’ questions cut both ways. What if I’m burning my bridges? What if I’m no good at Theology? Worse still, what if I don’t even like Theology at all? Then there is a raft of more practical concerns. How would I get funding? How does it fit with settling down? And when am I ever going to get a real job and start saving for my pension? Perhaps I’m just being romantic and naïve about what Theology actually entails.
‘What if? ’ questions haunt our lives. But why are they so compelling? Can our existential doubt be attributed to our modern obsession with choice? We have developed a society in which having more options to offer to a consumer is considered a virtue. Then, when faced with a dizzying array of possibilities at life’s bigger junctures—where you’re going to live, what you’re going to do, who you’re going to live with—many people feel understandably threatened, insecure, or even paralysed by choice. I recently asked a friend why he was studying for his degree: because it gives me more choice about what I do, he replied. But what did he want to do? He wasn’t sure; he just knew that it was sound advice to keep his options open.
Robert Frost’s poem The Road Not Taken is common fare for those making big decisions, and it touches on some other aspects of the ‘what if? ’ question. At the beginning of the poem, “two roads diverged in a yellow wood,” and, since the author “could not travel both”, he is forced to choose. After to-ing and fro-ing—and attempting to peer into the future—he takes “the one less travelled by and,” we are told, “that has made all the difference”.  Some readers have taken these final two lines as an affirmation of a counter-cultural approach to making big decisions: do something different, less popular or more daring and you’ll be on the right track. But I think it’s more subtle than this. The whole poem is tinged with regret: regardless of the final outcome, there is a sense of deep sadness that the other option was never fully explored. A decision taken is a door shut. And for mortal creatures, this can be truly terrifying. The root of the greener grass is exactly this sense of mourning for what could have been, but wasn’t. No wonder we always want to follow the path that continues to give us more options and more possibilities.
In recent years there has been a blossoming of interest, both academic and popular, in so-called counterfactual histories. What would the world be like if this or that had been different? What if the Nazis had won the war? Or an assassination attempt on Hitler had been successful? The historians Jeremy Black and Donald MacRaild describe it as, “the idea of conjecturing on what did not happen, or what might have happened, in order to understand what did happen.”  In other words, if we imagine what life would have been like on the road not taken, then we gain a better understanding of the consequences of the actions and decisions we did make.
The great irony of The Road Not Taken. though, is that Frost wasn’t mourning the road not taken, or even advocating the road less travelled, but rather ridiculing the gravitas that we ascribe to apparently inconsequential events. Frost sent an initial draft of the poem to his friend Edward Thomas, mocking Thomas’s indecision about enlisting in the First World War. But, it appears, Thomas might have taken it very seriously indeed: soon afterwards he enlisted in the British Army and was killed. Yet the perennial problem with the game of ‘what if? ’ is that there are no answers to be had: flights of the imagination are not the same as knowing what would have been. Maybe Frost’s poem was influential in Thomas’s decision to go to war; but maybe it wasn’t.
In one sense, counterfactuals provide liberation from the “straitjacket of determinism”: knowing that matters would have turned out differently if it wasn’t for us affirms a sense of our own agency.  But if such small changes can have such drastic consequences, then pure chance must have the greatest agency of all. This notion has similarities with chaos theory and has become known popularly as ‘the butterfly effect’; many of life’s systems are so sensitive to the initial conditions that the tiniest perturbation can radically alter the outcome.
And yet, in theological terms we talk of God’s providence—we think, or believe, or hope, that we see signs of God’s steering guidance when we look back on our lives. Surely God is at work somewhere in our decision-making process. Christian history, though, remains unclear on quite how divine providence might work. To put it simply, does God work with or against the grain of the laws of nature? Is providential guidance a flash of insight, a quiet steering, or indiscernible from what we consider to be the normal pattern of our lives? For some, God’s providence is hugely reassuring, but for others it can leave questions hanging. What about the times we look back on where we made bad decisions or it appears like God wasn’t with us to help us along? There’s also a concern here about human freedom: how could God assure that we were always on the right track without turning us into automatons?
So what does all of this have to do with my current situation? I am reaching a point in my career where the two roads are diverging and the ‘what if? ’ questions are congregating in the wings. Strangely, though, I’m not particularly perturbed. I don’t feel paralysed by the choice in front of me and, though I have thought through some of the consequences, I’m not distraught about the road I’m not taking. In fact, quite the opposite: I know I would feel regret in twenty years’ time if I didn’t give it a go. One set of ‘what if? ’ questions far outweighs the other. I have what I suppose you might call an inner conviction.
A number of people close to me are currently going through, or have recently been through, the discernment process for ordained ministry in the Church of England. For those thinking of becoming priests, the question of vocation is particularly acute. However, since Luther and the Reformation, Christians have also talked about vocations in many other spheres of life. People are called to be teachers, doctors, aid workers and volunteers—perhaps even investment bankers and street cleaners. By the modern definition, then, vocation is a word that goes beyond the boundaries of priestly ministry.
But within the church, opinions about the precise nature of vocation diverge. For some, it’s about God’s ‘big plan’ for each of us. We each have a specific, pre-ordained and God-given function to fulfil. For others, God simply desires that we live fulfilling lives, and we are given the freedom to work out how best to do that.  This ‘working out’ takes place both in the conscience of the individual and by seeking the advice of others. And each has its problems.
When examining our own consciences, how do we know that we are not deceiving ourselves? The opening lines of Philip Larkin’s poem Church Going sound a note of caution:
“A serious house on serious earth it is,
In whose blent air all our compulsions meet,
Are recognised and robed as destinies.” 
Lines which are at once affirming and deeply concerning. God treats our desires seriously; God wishes what we wish. And yet we know full well that some human impulses are deeply horrifying—they’re not in our best interests, in others’ best interests or in God’s interests.
The advice of others, though, doesn’t always help either. In my own experience the advice is invariably to ‘do what I did’. Scientists I’ve spoken to, my own teachers and mentors, tend to sound wary about Theology. Stick to what you’re good at, they say. Don’t waste the skills and experience you already have. On the other hand, the Theologians I have met are excited and encouraging. Their eyes light up when they see someone with a similar passion.
Rowan Williams, the former Archbishop of Canterbury, has a characteristically appealing take on the problem:
“God’s call is the call to be: the vocation of creatures is to exist. And… the vocation of creatures is to exist as themselves, to be bearers of their names, answering to the Word that gives each its distinctive identity.” 
Herein lies, I think, a really important point: we are called, first and foremost, just to be. And it is with this idea of being that I want to conclude.
In recent years I have started, albeit rather infrequently, to attend a Christian meditation group. We gather in the early evening to listen to a short talk before spending half an hour in silence together. I’m no great practitioner and sometimes my mind wanders so far that I don’t even feel rested at the end of it. But one thing I have tried to take to heart is the importance of living in the present. As the aphorism goes, ‘if you worry about what might be, and wonder what might have been, you will ignore what is’. When it comes to one’s career I feel that this is hugely important.
Careers Services at Universities have the best interests of students at heart, but they also manufacture a culture in which far too many things are done for ‘CV points’. Frequently, an activity is justified as worth doing because it will look good on a job application. Certain career paths require certain levels of qualification and experience, but if you are always planning your next move you run the risk of never living in the present. There should be, I think, at least some innate value in what you do at the moment—something that makes it worthwhile and something that makes you want to do it well.
I have no delusions about what Theology will be like: the grass is, I’m sure, no greener and the libraries no more frescoed. Similarly, although I’m very excited about embarking on my theological studies, I have also come to realise that I’m actually quite content with doing what I’m doing at the moment. I don’t want to be a scientist for the rest of my life, but at the same time I have the good fortune to be in an interesting place working on an interesting project, surrounded by good friends. And that’s enough for now.
By on October 21, 2016 in News
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