The road not taken

This is one of the most well-known poems in modern English literature. 

The Road Not Taken


Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
I chose this because it the design could be really obvious--an image of a woodland path. This could really be a sentimental cover. As Peter stated in his video, the end of a work can be key, and that is where I found the inspiration. Before I explain the inspiration, let me start with the first idea I had. (I am sorry, but I cannot draw.)

The problem is this is really too bleak. The text does refer to a pleasent landscape. So, color:

My next draft for this was this:

This was going the wrong way for me for two reasons. Like my first cover, it was too cold. The other reason is the addition of the handwritting seemed to be an overused or easy motif

This is the design I settled on (so far).
An idea that came to me early on was not the Frost was talking about the road he did not take, but the one he did. The first design was inspired by a hand drawn map where the title becomes a simple annotation, but the road he took was clear. The second version took the same the idea making the poem title "the road taken," but then later revised as the poem was reworked--a handwritten correction.
One idea that stuck me in the text was his comment that both roads were equally attractive. Both were fine paths. This led to the last version of bisecting the cover in two halves while still playing on the idea that the poem is still about the path he actually took. I also was trying to modernize it to create the image that the idea of the text is still contemporary. I used a sans-serif and dropped the use of the caps.  I still like the first concept as it is looser.

This is a more classic feel, but also playing on the idea of Robert Frost being one of New England's most famous poets. This is a map of Boston Commons. I am not convinced this is it, but I wanted to play with the idea. This may be a bit too subtle for a book cover--I am not sure the author name would please an author or marketing group. Probably need a better script typeset, too. Here is an inverted color scheme for fun.

I am feeling the designs are flat. They lack energy. Here is a reworking of one of the previous designs.

So, I revisited this design again tonight. 

The split image signifies the two possible ways. 

Just playing with this theme and the elements in it. (Photography mine.)


So, I went back and thought about the cover again. The poem is really reflecting over a lifetime. I started to think about the passage of time. (Photography mine.)

And a slightly different color scheme...

One last version for today. I am interested in designing with type. There is only one color stated in the poem, which is why this particular color.

So, here is another attempt at the cover.

So, I started to think of a man reflecting over a life. And still with the idea of the poem actually about the choice that was made rather then one that was not. This is an image of Robert and his wife Elinor White after they were married. And obviously an old, time-worn photograph. I am also channeling a little Magritte. But I was thinking with the old photograph, the title cards are new, defining the two points in the lifeline. 


So, Robert Frost was known for his humor and so I thought I would have some fun:

This is a little bit of a culture mashup. I am not sure Robert would actually deface a book, but it was just an idea I wanted to try just for fun. These two poets probably represent the most well-known "road" poetry.


So, I have been thinking about this cover. And what I said at the beginning I would not do was really an indication of something I would probably have to try--the forest path. And obvious symbol for the cover. I was also looking at the kind of flatness that can be in a book cover, a kind of static look. So, I tried to add some depth, some first person direct experience of making the choice. 

The photograph is mine. So is the garden. It is not quite formally structured as most landscape photography. The long exposure is giving the goldenrod motion in the wind. This is almost as a personal memory, a snapshot. The warmth also creates the effect of it being in the past--kind of like an old family print from the film era. Certainly not from Frost's time. But Frost was writing for a contemporary audience. 


Here is another iteration of the cover:

The photograph is mine. Too heavy?  Too easy? Or just running out of ideas?


Playing with ideas...

So, I started to think of associated images. Naturally the road, but also a crossroads.

And a variation.

Two more I am trying to get under the wire:

This is about the road that Robert did not take.

This is trying to expound on there were roads that were equally good.

I like this:


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