Robert Lee Frost was born in San Francisco on March 26, 1874 and died in Boston on January 29, 1963. Frost was considered to be one of America’s leading 20th century poets and a four-time winner of the Pulitzer Prize. He was an essentially pastoral poet who was often associated with rural New England. Frost wrote poems of a philosophical region. His poems were traditional but he often said as a dig at his archrival Carl Sandburg, that “he would soon play tennis without a net as write free verse.
Frost said this because he believed he was a pioneer of rhythm and meter and in the poetic use of vocabulary and inflections of everyday life and speech. Frost’s poetry is considered to be traditional, experimental, regional, and universal (Robert 1997). Frost was born of two teachers. At the age of ten, Frost suffered the loss of his father. After the death of his father, his mother moved to Lawrence, Massachusetts. He grew up in a teaching atmosphere, along with its problems. Early in Frost’s school career, he was extremely careless and preferred fun and game to his studies.
In high school, he decided to apply and involve himself in many areas. He graduated in three years from high school at the head of his class. After high school he attended Dartmouth and Harvard but ended up not finishing at either due to personal problems (Newdick). He was destined to be a teacher. Frost after not making it in college, went to teach at his mother’s school in Salem, New Hampshire. In 1912 he went to England to be with his family, and in his publication of North of Boston, in 1914, he was finally hailed as the great artist that he truly was.
After he returned to America in 1915, he went to Harvard and read a poem for some exercises, and was instantly honored by institutions of higher learning by their conferring degrees on him (Biography). Throughout Frost’s 60 years of existence, he spent 30 of those years teaching a half a dozen subjects. He has taught in schools ranging from plain white country schoolhouses in his native land of New England to the proud American Universities. He has gained half a lifetime of considered experience and philosophical observations (Libraries).
In the critical analysis that I read, the critics were hard on Frost’s work “Road not taken. The first critic, William George, starts off by attacking other critics, saying they misinterpreted the poem. He didn’t agree with the interpretation in The Norton Anthology of Modern Poetry. They interpreted it as “an expression of regret that possibilities of life-experience are so sharply limited. ” George claims that there are such complexities to the poem that this interoperation cannot explain everything that it is about.
George believes that three distinct ages in the poem exist, and he wants the reader to realize that the speaker faces a choice in the later part of his life, to take a more or less traveled road. Frost gave a warning to readers that the poem was “very tricky” and the subtle mockery contains a hit. George seems to think that some work by William H. Pritchard, helped to counteract, when some readers tend to ignore significant details of the poem. George also seems to think that readers seem to wish to see Frost follow his instinct on choosing the road less traveled.
George likes to think that the speaker holds up an earlier, less wise version of himself for gentle mockery. He also distinguishes this poem from others by holding up to us an older self, whom he also attacks. His younger and older selves are thought to be alike. George views his middle-aged self, as the speaker. When he’s compared to his middle-aged self, both are given to emotion, self-deception, and self-congratulation. They both also face a decision, which his younger and older selves do not see with an objective eye like his middle-aged self does (George).
George’s final point of the poem was “to attribute the sorrows, claims, and choices of the three-aged self to just one self leads, I think, to mistaken notions about the poem and a failure to understand the complexity of a poem that presents a middle-aged self mocking less-objective versions of himself as a young and an older man” (George). The second critic, Nathan Cervo believes that most critics want you to read it as a statement of American individualism. Nathan starts by breaking down the word not in the title by saying that he calls it a word of commanding deference.
He believes that it should be path and not road because road symbolizes wheels being used as driving, where as path is more about walking. Cervo believes that the poem is fundamental, and intimation of truth about human existence, as portrayed by Frost (Cervo). Cervo compares Frost’s work to a work done by Chime Rimbaud called Ruts. Cervo seems to believe that the setting and trajectory of both works are ery similar, each projecting at its outset Two Roads, right or left. Rimbaud’s roads are a little more mysterious then Frost’s roads.
Frost’s roads both lead into a variant of Percy Miller’s wilderness. Cervo once again mentions the use of road opposite to Rimbaud’s use of the word parc, which means enclosed ground. Cervo finds Rimbaud’s use of the word more reassuring than Frost’s. Cervo never stops criticizing Frost’s use of road opposite to path. Cervo’s interpretation of the poem was “a fundamental poem of truth about human existence, assented by Frost” (Cervo). Lawrence Thompson had many positive comments about Frost as a poet.
Thompson believes the more that he reads of Frost’s work, the more he seems to understand his intellect, thinking, feelings, and expressions of his poetry. He believes each poem strikes a chord somewhere, and brings you closer to life’s simple pleasures. Thompson considers these things to be jewels of thought. They are simple poems that are so profound that they catch you off guard. For Frost, poetry and life were one and the same thing. In an interview, Frost said, “one thing I care about and wish young people would care about is taking poetry as the first form of understanding.
Says it: My favorite form of understanding. If poetry does not understand all, the whole world, then it is not worth anything. Young poets forget that poetry must include the mind as well as the emotions. Too many poets delude themselves by thinking the mind is dangerous and must be left out. Well, the mind is dangerous, and must be left in. ” This is a quote that has helped Thompson to more appropriately understand Frost and to help him critically analyze his work (Robert 2000). I can’t say that I agree with a lot of what the critics stated about Frost’s poem The Road not taken.
I can agree with Cervo’s complaint on his use of road. I agree that path is a better word to use. Path is a word that I think relates more to life and it’s journeys. Life can be complicated and full of hard work. The word path symbolizes hard work more appropriately than the word road. The reason for this is because it takes more work to walk along a path than to ride on a road. My outlook on the poem is somewhat similar to others. I understand that it begins by discussing a young person who has to face different and difficult decisions in life.
His decisions deal with right or wrong situations, and the speaker has to choose which road, or decision, to take. I like to think that I can somewhat relate to the speaker. I have had to make many choices throughout my life and I will never know whether my choices were right or wrong until I made them. The speaker kind of concludes the poem by saying that he is relieved that he chose the right road to take. I look back and wonder if I had chosen a few different roads, how everything would have come out. I think that a lot of the roads I chose to take have been good, as far as I know.