The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost

A widely known poem, The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost is a poem that I’m sure many (if not all) of you have read before. But wait! You’ll be surprised to hear that this poem is so commonly misinterpreted by many! So read on if you want to know the real message of The Road Not Taken!  Anyway, it has been quite long since the last time I did a poem analysis / commentary (my very 1st post) and I decided it was about time for another so here it is!
_________________________________________
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 onto 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 into a wood, and I –
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

__________________________________________

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood

The poem starts off simply enough, speaking of two roads that lead to different paths in the forest. The roads we’re talking about here can be actual roads or figurative ones, of which the latter is more probable as you will understand why from the next couple of lines. The poet also tells us that it’s not just any wood (the setting) but a yellow wood. When are woods yellow? My guess would be in Autumn, also known as Fall. Now, it’s only the 1st line of the poem but things are getting interesting. Fall in this case not only conveys the information of the season we’re in, but could also signify a period in the narrator’s life. The fall of his life, when he could be getting on in age, unable to take another road.

And sorry I could not travel both

And be one traveler, long I stood

Here we see the 1st sign of the narrator’s emotions. Sorrow. He’s in a dilemma, unsure of how he should make his choice on which road to take. This tells us that this isn’t an actual road, but a figurative one.

And looked down one as far as I could

To where it bent in the undergrowth

Curiosity gets the better of the narrator. We are shown that the narrator badly wishes to know what’s in store for him if he were to take the 1st road, so much that he looks till he can’t see no further. His hesitation is made known to us as we also know by now that he is but one traveler, with but a sole chance. Surely he’d want to choose wisely.

Then took the other, as just as fair,

Yet, almost instantaneously, the narrator unexpectedly chooses the 2nd road without second thoughts. Why would this be? How can he be so certain that this road is the one he wants to travel down?

Because it was grassy and wanted wear;

My guess would be that this particular road that the narrator chooses must have really stood out to him in a way that the 1st did not. We come to this assumption on two bases. Firstly, the narrator’s choice of which road to take is made in a split second upon seeing the 2nd road. Second, the road seems to speak to him, telling him that it wants to be worn, meaning that it lacks being traveled by, making it less traveled by.

Though as for that the passing there

Had worn them really about the same

It seems that the narrator has come to a realisation that in fact, both roads were equally traveled by. Neither more, neither less. This is a direct contradiction of the previous line, reminding us that we shouldn’t eliminate the possibility of being fooled into thinking a certain way or making a certain choice in life. Sometimes, it is may not even be others or the situation that fools us, but merely shortsightedness on our part, like the situation the narrator finds himself in.

Oh, I kept the first for another day!

Yet knowing how way leads onto way,

I doubted if I should ever come back.

How often in life are we given a chance to amend our mistakes or make an entirely different choice? The narrator chooses self deception here, trying to convince himself that he’ll get another chance, another day, to walk down the 1st path. But sadly, that just isn’t possible as he knows in his heart as he doubted. Way leads onto way and before he knows it, he has gone too far, beyond the point of turning back..

I shall be telling this with a sigh

Somewhere ages and ages hence:

We’re in the final stanza and the narrator is conveying his last thoughts to us. It is a long time after he has taken his road of choice. That leaves us to wonder – where is he? Is he happy with the choice he made? Who knows? I find it surprising that he’s telling this with a sigh, a sign that he has some unspoken regrets, perhaps due to having forever lost the chance to experience what the the road not taken could have had in store for him.

Two roads diverged into a wood, and I –

As we follow this dramatic ending, the narrator repeats that two roads diverged in a wood, emphasising on nature as well as relieving the time when he first discovered this. A good time, we can consider it, as perhaps he would have loved to be presented with the opportunity to choose once again. This brings in a wider topic for discussion. Making a difficult choice is often considered a dilemma but we forget that to be able to choose is actually a blessing. A blessing in disguise. After all, don’t you think having freedom of choice beats having no choice at all?

I took the one less traveled by,

And that has made all the difference.

He claims that he took the road less traveled by but as we know, this isn’t true. Perhaps he would like to think that this was the case, that the road he took really was less traveled by to feel special or extraordinary. Of course, this is just my assumption and nothing is provided for us to come to a substantial conclusion. However, take note that the narrator goes so far as to say that the fact that he took the road less traveled by made all the difference. What kind of difference did it make, I wonder? A positive difference or a negative one? One thing is certain – the difference made is definitely not owed to taking the road ‘less traveled by’, but to taking the road taken.

☁️

We’re all different human beings in different stages of our lives. In different parts of the world, making different choices in our lives. But one thing remains the same for us all. And that is the fork in the road we’ll all face at some point in time. I’d like to think that for the majority of us, both roads diverging lead to a bright and sunny land. Sometimes, we face two roads with a number of pros and cons and eventually wind up making sacrifices based on personal priorities. Unfortunate circumstances may come into play because hey, its life. You cant have everything your way. But what we can do is deal with whatever lemons life throws at us! A little motivation for anyone who’s going through a rough spot 🌻 Of course, there will never be a way of knowing which of these apply to us. Because even if you take the road that ends kindly, there’s no means of finding out where the other road would have taken you, right?

Well, that was my analysis and commentary of The Road Not Taken that I hope you enjoyed reading! The poem is rather ambiguous, leaving us readers to interpret it by ourselves, reason for so much misinterpretation. Feel free to hit me up for further discussion of the poem. What do YOU make of the poem? Leave your comments below, I’d love to hear your thoughts! 😊

Featured image taken from http://unefleurdemurphotographie.tumblr.com

Advertisements

8 thoughts on “The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost

  1. I remembered the poem not because of the title but because of the poet…hahaha! I remembered this was part of high school literature, probably discussed, but I think I wasn’t listening. Anyway, the line by line explanation you did made me reflect on my own life choices. Indeed, it was a good poem, worthy of revering. It’s depth should be reflected upon. I’m still young, a little over twenty, but I’m wondering if ever I’ll be regretting my choices in life once I reached my senior years. I hope not. I hope that I am satisfied with my decisions when that time comes. I don’t want to regret choosing those decisions. But I have yet to know.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s interesting! I took Pure English Literature in high school and it was my favourite subject. Still is haha! Thank you, I’m glad to know that my analysis helped you ☺️ I wish you all the best in all that you do, your life choices and what not! Personally I like to go with what my heart and intuition tells me so that’s a piece of advice I’d give to you. Because sometimes on the surface, we may feel compelled to make a particular choice because it may seem wise to do so. However, we may not feel the peace to follow through. That’s when we know it’s time to reevaluate our decisions.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I am really amazed by the analysis made! In fact, my former classmate even said wow. I agree with you. We should always follow what our hearts tell us. We may seek advice from other people, but at the end of the day, it is still us making the decision and going through the entire thing so the decision we should take must be what we will be choosing ourselves

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Wow thank you I’m really flattered! Yes that’s right. A lot of people seek others’ advice and take them without thinking twice which I don’t quite agree with.. Advice is just advice and may not be a well thought out solution. Btw I’m looking forward to reading your blogposts!

        Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s