The depiction of life choices are seen through the works of Carl Sandburg’s “Choices” and Robert Frost’s “The Road Not Taken” and “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening”. Both of Frost’s works exemplify the youthful aspect and experience of life contrasted by the old age, and more importantly, the fear that wearies life. On the contrary Sandburg’s poem portrays the choices of life that may be deteriorated by fear or age but is balanced out by the accomplishments that may come from those choices.
In both of Frost’s poems the speaker is in situation where he has to choose from what he wants and what is right. In “The Road Not taken” the speaker chooses the eccentric approach to the choice he has to make, thus showing his inimitability and stimulating mindset while in “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening” the speaker wants a life without any fear or struggle but he has to abide by social responsibility.
Where as in “Choices” the speaker is struck by fear and the reality from his choices. Whether good or bad, both authors portray the outcome of each choice, and the fear it may cause.
In the poem, “The Road Not Taken”, there is a decision that has to be made between two paths. This poem discusses the dilemma that a person comes to when there is a fork in the road. The road is a symbol of the options we have in life and difficulty people have in making those choices.
As the speaker contemplates which road to take, and whichever one is chosen will bring good or bad outcomes. At this point in the poem the speaker is in a state of confusion “And looked down as far as I could / To where it bent in the undergrowth”, by taking time to evaluate the choices the “less traveled” road is chosen. “The Road Not Taken” is an immaculate representation of the life choices that causes fear, hesitation or the hard way out for many people. “That has made all the difference”, this shows choosing the harder path relives the speaker, however challenges him for all the escapades that are bound to come. At first he considers both choices, but in the end choose the path that was harder yet less popular. The speaker does this because he wants to express his uniqueness and his ability to take a risk and accept the hardships or happiness in the future. He says, “Oh I kept the first for another day”, but later “doubted if [he] should ever come back”. Thus the poem’s importance and theme lies in the speaker’s choice and his aptitude to move forward with his life.
In “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening”, the speaker has to make a life changing choice. He has to choose between what he wants isolation and what he knows he needs social obligation. At first the poem starts out with a subtle tone. Different symbols in this poem are the bad decisions cause harm and pain, however the better choices bring happiness. The author describes the setting and the speakers view on life “Between the woods and frozen lake”, the wood is a symbol of life and moving forward and the frozen lake signifies the end of one’s life. The speaker finds solitude and tranquility in the woods and realizes the world around him consists off an abundant amount of choices where social obligation and isolation become critical. He goes to the woods on the “darkest evening of the year” to watch them “fill up with snow”, and stays there hoping there is “some mistake” or answer to his hesitant life choices. The speaker undergoes hesitation in the third stanza where he considers whether he should stay in the woods or not. The wood isolates him from the social obligation he strongly desires. He considers going back but notices the beauty of the “wind” and how its strength can blow away his fear, and worries in life. Finally, he realizes “dark and deep” wood and “frozen lake”; in this case the representation of death is not the answers to his worries.
Unlike Frost, Sandburg describes life’s choices through the good and the bad. He sets the poem “Choices” through his eyes and contrasts the life of others compared to the speaker. The speaker has to make a choice of moving forward or pursue a better path. Using diction such as “moonlight” and “sparkling” the author describes the better aspects of life, where as “hunger”, “danger” and “death” exemplify the bad decisions the speaker has made. The entirety of the poem contrasts the outcomes of an intelligent life choice versus what the speaker is stuck with in the end. When he says, “come and have now” he knows that if he does not act or take the path less travelled by he will suffer. More so, he does the opposite of Frost and gets to a point rather than create and conflict between two paths. There is a distinct difference between the two paths. The “smiling women” serve as a symbol for hope of happiness, where has the “terrible job” is a temporary distraction of the truth that lies behind the pain.
Robert Frost’s “The Road Not Taken” and “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening” and Carl Sandburg’s “Choices” provide and insight of contrasting ideas and peeps of life. “The Road Not Taken” is about control and living life to its fullest, not worrying about the other path or other people’s choices. Whereas “Stopping by Woods on Snowy Evening” entails the desire for isolation but the need for social obligation. In the “Choice” it is a collaboration of both works. It entails the idea of good and bad, but more importantly the pain and the regret one can feel from moving the wrong way. Both poets explain the difficulty people have in the road of life, and the regret they feel from not choosing the other path. However it is not about the path you choose, it is the life that you choose to make yourself happy. Both authors emphasize this throughout their poems, and infer that one can make a mistake but can fix it by choosing a brighter path.