The Road Not Taken
~ Robert Frost ~
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.
“The Road Not Taken” is a poem by Robert Frost, published in 1916 as the first poem in the collection Mountain Interval. The poem may be the most widely recognized of all poems, some claim that it is one of the most misunderstood.
Frost’s biographer Lawrence Thompson is cited as saying that the poem’s narrator is “one who habitually wastes energy in regretting any choice made: belatedly but wistfully he sighs over the attractive alternative rejected.” According to the Thompson biography, Robert Frost: The Years of Triumph (1971), in his introduction in readings to the public, Frost would say that the speaker was based on his friend Edward Thomas. In Frost’s words, Thomas was “a person who, whichever road he went, would be sorry he didn’t go the other.”
In 1961, Frost commented that “The Road Not Taken” is “a tricky poem, very tricky” implying that people generally misinterpret this poem as evidence of the benefit of free thinking and not following the crowd, while Frost’s intention was to comment about indecision and people finding meaning in inconsequential decisions. A New York Times Sunday book review on Brian Hall’s 2008 biography Fall of Frost states: “Whichever way they go, they’re sure to miss something good on the other path.”