Comparison by Contrast: The Armful and The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost

The Armful and The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost are two poems with similar and different stories. The Armful describes a man carrying a massive pile of random assorted groceries and packages, dropping them in the process. This represents life events or a busy schedule that falls apart. The Road Not Taken describes a man who views two roads, and “takes the one less traveled by.” At least that is what he says. This is interpreted as a big choice in life.

The Armful and The Road not taken have similarities, some more obvious than others. First, they both take place on a road. This is a metaphor for life in both poems. They are also both written in first person. They both have a quite regular rhyme scheme and meter, although not the same. And they are both written by the same author.

In the Armful, the narrator does not have to leave any of his items in the road. He decides that instead of leaving behind the least desirable items, he will attempt to balance them in a more organized fashion. In the Road Not Taken, the narrator does have to leave behind something, the other road, the one not taken.

At first both of the poems’ rhyme schemes  and meters seem very similar. They are both somewhat regular and consistent. However, the rhyme scheme and meter in the Road Not Taken are definitely more complex than those in the Armful. Additionally, the Road Not Taken contains metric irregularities. Most lines have nine syllables. But there are three lines with eight syllables, and one line with ten syllables. One of these: “Oh, I marked the first for another day!”

The meanings of the two poems are also different. While both use the road to represent life, the Armful describes packages, or life events, stacked up to a great height. The Road not taken describes a choice to take. Also, the Road not Taken uses those metric irregularities to hint that the narrator is not exactly right.

 

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