Life is full of choices, and the aspect of choosing is inevitable in human lives. The two poems, Robert Frost's "The Road Not Taken" by and Nikki Giovanni's "Choices" describe how different choices are made and how these choices can influence everything. While the two books take different approaches and literal differences, they have a lot of similarities.
The Two Poems
"The Road Not Taken" starts by describing a woodland scene with a road. The road diverges into two different paths that are normally chosen by passers-by. It is also important to mention how the traveler in the poem complains of his inability to travel both paths at the same time. Therefore, the traveler makes up his mind on the road to take. On reaching a decision, the traveler guarantees himself that he will look back when he reaches the end of the road. When doing so, the traveler regrets his decision of not taking the alternative road he avoided. The poem generally tries to point out that every decision human beings make in life has positive or negative results. Therefore, human beings can make difference in life depending on the way they lead and their lives are founded on the decisions they make. In brief, this poem describes the tension between the choice of a proper path and the fear of making wrong decisions.
Robert Frost's poem, "The Road Not Taken" is a figurative journey that shows how a human spirit responds to decisions as it travels through life. The poem is a metonymy showing the individuality as well as its expression. Therefore, as the readers go through the poem and respond to the poem's message, it is clear that the elements of the physical journey that are contained in the poem are metaphorical to give a reflection of the day to day lives and the values of human beings.
In both poems, human beings are portrayed to be led by an underlying character of greed. The poem shows that human beings always tend to desire whatever they are not able to own or possess. Despite presenting their different situations in the two poems, the authors have created an idea of a vice in the description of greed. In the prom "The Road Not Taken", the author is noting the regret concerning the decision he took when he chose the path that is less taken by other people. In the poem "Choices", the author is also seen as resenting the misfortunes that befall her.
Unfortunately, neither sorrow nor regrets can change any of the circumstances. Despite of the fact that the two poems are showing these traits in human beings, none seems to suggest a perfect answer. The human trait of always wanting more seems to be the common factor that leads to the decisions made by people in regards to the two poems. The only choice that is left for human beings is to cherish what they do in life or what they have and ignore what they may desire in vain.
In the two poems, the authors present the aspect of learning. In Giovanni's poem "Choices", the main aspect of the author's focus is the review of the choices made. According to the author, these choices seem to be the source of learning by the author through the decisions made in the past (Giovanni 1). According to Frost, the mistake he makes contributes to learning, especially during some difficult situations. The conclusion is that its people's failures which become the basis of success.
Despite the similarities, the two poems are different in terms of approach and the message presented to humanity. Nikki Giovanni's poem "Choices" talks about how people sometimes make decisions and choices that are not always based on their desires. People tend to make decisions mostly based on what other people want. According to the poem, these decisions end up becoming something they did not want to do (Giovanni 3). On the other hand, the poem "The Road Not Taken" by Robert Frost describes a person who made a decision not to follow the road the others had taken. This is presented by the author in the traveler's decision to make a choice between the two paths which represent the "roads" of life.
In the poem "The Road Not Taken", the author explains how decisions in life are to be made by individuals at some point in life. As the story progresses, the author creates a pessimistic theme, which shows his regret of the decision he had made by choosing the wrong path. This is created as he imagines what the consequences would have been if he had decided to take the other path instead. It would seem easier to transverse an old saying that too many people choose to take the more traveled paths, as it seems in the poem (Roberts and Henry 9). Nevertheless, according to the author, he chooses the path that seems to be less traveled by. This is contrary to the norms, as people always tend to learn the path that people travel by and chose the one.
In the poem "Choices", the general impact of the plot is reconciliation with everything that life offers to humanity. According to the author, it seems that there is just one choice which is the decision to accept one's fate in life. However, closer to the end of the poem, the author portrays a sense of defiance through the cry of a human being. In this manner, the author shows the way in which a man differs from animals.
Comparison of the Styles Used
The poem "The Road Not Taken" uses a lot of symbolism and metaphors in the coding of its message. The roads in the poem symbolize the journey of Life by human beings. They also signify the destination that is intended by people who chose different paths in life. This destination is described when the author states, "Yet knowing how the way leads on to the way and goes on to state that "I doubted if I should ever come back" (Frost 14-15). The metaphor represented by the road is persistent in the description, analysis and conclusion of the poem, which makes it an extended metaphor. The poem starts by describing the paths as "the roads diverged in a yellow wood" (Frost 1). The usage of the word "yellow" demonstrates a season of the year.
However, the poem "Choices" adopts a limited use of symbolism in the depiction of life choices. The author uses symbolism to describe the impact of all choices in life and preference of the acceptance and appreciation of what life presents. According to the author, this is the ultimate choice that is real for everyone. Unlike "The Road Not Taken", which rides on symbolism and metaphor, this poem packages it message in line with its title with such a limited use of the style.
Unlike in the poem "Choices", rhythmic patterns are used in the poem "The Road Not Taken". Alliteration is seen in the first line and the fourteenth line. "Yellowwood" as well as "knowing how" are examples of alliteration in the repeated "w" sound (Frost 1). At the same time, assonance can be seen in lines with "looked" and "could." The same vowel sounds used in these words denote an assonance rhythm pattern. Lastly, consonance is also used to generate rhythm. Line four and the words "looked" and "could" also form a consonance rhythm. As stated by Roberts and Henry (12), the same rhythm is used, with the words "equally" and "lay" being also the examples of consonance.
The two poems are based on the human aspect of making decisions and the fact that choices are unavoidable elements of human life. This is the main foundation of the similarities of the two poems and the authors in presenting the message to people. While Giovanni in the poem "Choices" uses a direct message of choices and their significance to human life, Frost in his poem "The Road Not Taken" decides to code his message in the symbolism of two roads. The use of symbolism and rhythmic patterns make the poem reality, unlike Giovanni, who uses limited imagery and symbolism. However, the final point of both authors is that choices promote learning, especially when people appreciate what life has to offer.
- Finger, Larry L. "Frost's "The Road Not Taken": A 1925 Letter Come to Light." American Literature 50.3(1978): 478-479. Print.
- Frost, Robert. "The Road Not Taken." Poetry X. Ed. Jough Dempsey. 2003. 28 Sep. 2013
- Giovanni Nikki. The selected poems of Nikki Giovanni. NY: William Morrow and Co., 1996.
- Nelson, Novella, Nikki Giovanni, and Virginia C. Fowler. "Bailey's Cafe: From Novel To Play: A Conversation With Nikki Giovanni And Virginia Fowler." Callaloo 23.4 (2000): 1475-1496. Print.
- Roberts, Edgar and Henry Jacobs. Literature: An Introduction to Reading and Writing.
- 6th edition. Upper Saddle Creek, NJ: Prentice-Hall, 2000. Print.