“Poetry is when an emotion has found its thought and the thought has found words,” Robert Frost once said. As is made fairly obvious by this quote, Frost was an adroit thinker. It seems like he spent much of his life thinking about the little things. He often pondered the meaning and symbolism of things he found in nature. Many readers find Robert Frost’s poems to be straightforward, yet his work contains deeper layers of complexity beneath the surface. His poems are not what they seem to be at first glance. These deeper layers of complexity can be clearly seen in his poems “The Road Not Taken”, “Fire and Ice”, and “Birches”.
Robert Lee Frost was born on March 26, 1874 in San Francisco. When his father died, he moved to Massachusetts with his family to be closer to his grandparents. He loved to stay active through sports and activities such as trapping animals and climbing trees. He married his co- valedictorian, Elinor Miriam White, in 1895. He dropped out of both Dartmouth and Harvard in his lifetime. Robert and Elinor settled on a farm in Massachusetts, which his grandfather bought him. It was one of the many farms on which he would live in throughout his lifetime. Frost spent the next 9 years writing poetry while poultry farming. When poultry farming did not work out, he went back to teaching English. He moved to England in 1912 and became friends with many people who were also in the writing business. After moving back to America in 1915, Frost bought a farm in New Hampshire and began reading his poems aloud at public gatherings. Out of the blue, he suddenly had many family disasters. Frost’s youngest daughter and wife died and his son committed suicide, soon after which another daughter institutionalized. Darker poetry, such as The Silken Tent and I Could Give All to Time, resulted. After World War 2, his poetry releases became very occasional until a series of health problems, ending with an embolism, killed him on January 29, 1963 in Boston. He was 88 years old.
The first of Frost’s poems that exemplifies the hidden layers of complexity behind its seemingly simple exterior is “The Road Not Taken.” The poem is, on the outside, about a man who approaches a fork in the road and must decide which one to take. The poem is not as simple as it seems, though. Literary critic Deirdre Fagan said, “The poem is celebrated at least partly because it can be easily reduced to an adage, but it is among Frost's best, most riveting, and most complex. It is an epic work in its ambiguity and seeming simplicity” (Bloom’s). It seems like the fork in the road symbolizes choices that must be made in life.
What is very interesting about this poem is that Frost establishes twice that the roads actually have similar wear and look to be equal. When the poem says, “Then took the other, as just as fair” and later “Though as for that the passing there/ Had worn them
really about the same.” Frost is pointing out that in many choices,...