How Does Punctuation Create Meaning in “the Road Not Taken”?

How Does Punctuation Create Meaning in “the Road Not Taken”?

  • Submitted By: wabler213
  • Date Submitted: 08/16/2013 5:21 PM
  • Category: English
  • Words: 438
  • Page: 2
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How does punctuation create meaning in “The Road Not Taken”?

Poets use punctuation in poetry for effect and to create meaning. Punctuation can create a sense of motion and create a run on of ideas, which helps convey the meaning the poet is trying to get across. In “The Road Not Taken”, Robert Frost uses punctuation throughout his poem, to create rhythm and meaning.

Punctuation can help create rhythm. In lines 2-3 of The Road Not Taken, enjambment is used - “And sorry I could not travel both / And be one traveller”. This use of enjambment helps depict the thoughts racing in the travellers mind, as he tries to pick which road to take. This run-on line makes the poem flow more easily as it forces the reader to move onto the next line and continue momentum as opposed to stopping at the end of each line. It also emphasizes that the part of the thought has been carried over to the next line. A semicolon is also used in the last line of the first stanza, “To where it bent in the undergrowth; / Then took the other, as just as fair,”. This semicolon is used similarly to how a comma is used; it lengthens the sentence, although it also provides a contrast of images.

Punctuation can create meaning by setting the tone. The first stanza, in line 2 “And be one traveller, long I stood”, contains a comma in the middle of the line. This is an example of caesura, which slows the rhythm of the poem to show feelings of tension or indecision. This line demonstrates the hesitation of the traveller as he makes a difficult choice. End-stopping can also slow down the rhythm of a poem, and is evident in The Road Not Taken, in stanza 3, line 3 – with “Oh, I kept the first for another day!”. This end-stop indicates the end of a thought. We can see this in the next lines, “Yet knowing how way leads on to way / I doubted if I should ever come back”, which show a complete change in thought as the traveller goes from optimistic, to realistic – as he knows he will never get a chance...

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