The inclusion of Robert Frost’s renowned poems in this volume has been a deliberate action to focus on their underlying meaning. Reading poetry can uncover symbolism and metaphorical meaning that relates to our everyday lives. Poetry expresses the human emotions through a different form to other styles of literature. Frost’s poems are often symbolic, centred on his experiences, taken from the unique aspects of his New England life. In this anthology, ‘Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening’ and ‘The Road Not Taken’ are poems which focus on the ideas of, most notably, the natural environment and the isolation of the individual. To do this Frost reflects on his past experiences, and speaks to us. ‘Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening’ is one of Frost’s more well-known poems and seems deceptively simply at face value, as a lot of his poetry does. The natural environment described in the poem is consistent for Frost and his affinity to his New England home. This provides the reader with the sense that Frost has experienced the events of the poem himself. Rich imagery provides the idea that the speaker is enjoying the landscape, the beauty and serenity of the woods.
He refers to the many secrets that nature holds, “the woods are lovely, dark and deep,” and wishes he knew about them, symbolising the eternal difference and division between humanity and nature. Similarly, included in this anthology is probably the most well-known of Frost’s poems, ‘The Road Not Taken’. In this Frost uses the natural environment to provide a setting for the poem. Although the poem does not focus on the environment in particular, he clearly demonstrates his affinity with both New England and its natural environment, “two roads diverged in a yellow wood.” This, with other references, provides for the reader detail to imagine the place the narrator speaks of. Frost uses nature as a background for the main ideas. He portrays that there will always be a division between mankind and nature. Yellow, symbolic of autumn, epitomises the continuous change of seasons, and represents the swinging of moods that the protagonist has when called to make a decision. The mood changes towards the end, “I doubted if I should ever come back”, implying that death is nearing so I would be unlikely for him to return, symbolising the constant mood changes from pleasant to morbid.
Isolation of the individual is extremely literal in ‘Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening’, the narrator makes it obvious that he is completely devoid of human company. Frost provides an image of complete seclusion through the monologue structure of the poem and his horse, the only other living being aside from “the only other sound’s sweep”, suggesting that he is completely alone. Finally, in the second stanza, “to stop without a farmhouse near”, illustrates that he is completely removed from civilisation, symbolising that it is only him and the natural world. The narrator is all alone simply by choice, so he can connect with nature on a different level showing that Frost uses the natural environment to help create the underlying themes of his poem, whether he be choosing to stop and consider his mortality. He has used isolation of the individual to symbolise how easy it is to be alone, in the midst of a continuously growing and changing world as well as the value of stopping to appreciate nature.
In contrast, Frost uses isolation of the individual metaphorically in ‘The Road Not Taken’, describing the process of making life decisions, literally choosing which path to take in life. It is clear throughout, that the narrator is alone without any companions, but the isolation of the individual focuses more on how the repercussions of making decisions will affect him. The conflict is internal, an internal monologue, the personal pronoun ‘I’ highlighting the assertion that it is an individual person who is confronted with the need to decide in the near future. Both poems illustrate Frost’s ability to connect rural environments with one’s deep thinking. ‘Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening’ and ‘The Road Not Taken’ feature the natural environment that Frost loves, his adoration clear in his words. Many have said that he was a quiet, reserved man – the isolation that he experienced is poignantly apparent in his poetry. Frost’s poetry is symbolic, very much centred on his experiences throughout his life.