Poetic Devices of ‘The Road Not Taken’ Poem Class 9 English

The Poetic Devices in the poem ‘The Road Not Taken’ help to create a complex and nuanced exploration of the choices we make in life and their consequences. The major poetic devices used in the poem ‘The Road Not Taken’ are given here.

Poem: The Road Not taken

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveller, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, 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.

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.

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 travelled by,
And that has made all the difference.

Poetic Devices: The Road Not taken


The poem has an ABAAB rhyme scheme, with the second and fourth lines of each stanza rhyming with each other. Perfect rhymes are ‘lay’ and ‘way’ and slant rhymes are ‘both’ and ‘undergrowth’.


The poet paints a vivid picture of two roads diverging in a yellow wood, which creates a clear image in the reader’s mind. The use of descriptive language, such as “grassy and wanted wear” and “leaves no step had trodden black,” creates vivid mental images.


  • The roads themselves symbolize the choices one makes in life, and the diverging paths represent the different options one may have to choose from. The speaker’s decision to take the road less travelled by represents individuality of his desire to be unique and independent
  • The yellow wood symbolizes the autumn season, a time of transition and change.
  • The speaker is a ‘traveller’, signifying one who is on a journey and yet to reach a destination. 


  • The two roads serve as a metaphor for the choices one makes in life, and how those choices can shape one’s destiny.
  • The fork represents various dilemmas one faces in the course of their lifetime. 


  • The undergrowth and leaves are personified in the poem as they are described as bending and being trodden black which gives it a sense of motion and life.
  • The paths have been personified, each given a personality to attract the traveller.  The poet calls both the paths ‘just as fair’ hinting at how they both looked inviting. 

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  • The repetition of the phrase “Two roads diverged in a yellow wood” in the first and last stanzas creates a sense of symmetry and emphasizes the poem’s central theme of choice and also the importance of this moment in the poet’s life.
  • Another place of repetition is ‘Somewhere ages and ages hence’ emphasising the depth of future.


The repetition of the “s” sound in sorry” and stood” creates a soft, sorrowful and melancholic tone.

Other examples include wanted wear’, ‘way leads to way’, and ‘ages and ages’

Enjambment: Enjambment is the poetic technique where a sentence or phrase runs over the end of one line and into the next without a pause.

in the first stanza, the sentence “And sorry I could not travel both” continues onto the next lines, creating a sense of urgency and hesitation as the speaker contemplates which road to take. The enjambment also helps to create a sense of natural speech, as if the speaker is speaking spontaneously.

Anaphora: Anaphora is the repetition of a word or phrase at the beginning of successive clauses or sentences.

In the first stanza, the repetition of the word “And” at the beginning of the second and third lines creates a sense of continuity and emphasizes the speaker’s indecision as they consider which path to take.


The repetition of the “o” sound in “long” and “road” creates a sense of slowness and hesitation.


Robert Frost’s “The Road Not Taken” conveys a contemplative and reflective tone, characterized by a bittersweet feeling of regret for the unchosen path and a sense of contentment and fulfillment with the chosen one. The poem addresses profound themes of life decisions and aging.


The poem’s ending is ironic, as the poet claims that taking the road less travelled has made all the difference, even though he admits earlier in the poem that the roads were actually worn about the same i.e. in reality, both roads were equally travelled. suggesting that the difference he imagines may not actually exist.

The Use of Extended Metaphor in ‘The Road Not taken’:

The extended metaphor in the poem “The Road Not Taken” is the speaker’s choice between two paths, which represents the choices one faces in life. The yellow wood represents a metaphorical fork in the road, and the two diverging paths symbolize two different options or paths in life. The speaker is faced with a difficult decision of choosing between the two paths and regrets not being able to take both.

The road that the speaker ultimately chooses is described as “grassy and wanted wear,” which suggests that it is less travelled than the other path. This represents the idea of taking the road less travelled or making unconventional choices in life. The speaker acknowledges that both paths were equally inviting, but he chose the one that was less travelled, indicating his desire for individuality and a unique path in life.

The metaphor extends to the idea that the speaker’s decision has made all the difference in his life, suggesting that the choices we make in life can have a significant impact on our future. The poem ends with the speaker’s regretful sigh, indicating that he still wonders what his life would have been like had he chosen the other path. This reflects the idea that the choices we make in life can have long-lasting effects and that we must be careful when making decisions.

Overall, the extended metaphor in “The Road Not Taken” is a powerful representation of the choices that we make in life, and the impact that those choices can have on our journey. It highlights the importance of taking risks, following your own path, and not being afraid to explore the unknown.

The Use of Oxymoron Poetic Device in ‘The Road Not Taken’

“The Road Not Taken” by Robert Frost features several instances of oxymoron, a poetic device in which contradictory terms are combined to create a new meaning.

One example is the title itself, “The Road Not Taken.” The phrase “not taken” contradicts the idea of a road, which is typically taken or traveled upon. This creates a sense of ambiguity and choice, which is central to the poem’s theme.

Another instance of oxymoron occurs in the third stanza, where the speaker describes the two paths diverging in the wood as “just as fair” and “about the same.” These phrases are contradictory because if the paths are about the same, they cannot also be just as fair. This contradiction emphasizes the speaker’s indecision and highlights the difficulty of making choices.

The use of oxymoron by Robert Frost in his poem “The Road Not Taken” helps to create a sense of complexity and uncertainty, reflecting the poem’s exploration of choice and its consequences.

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