“The Road Not Taken” by Robert Frost is a memorable classic poem, full of imagery. It flows, elicits emotional response, is a story poem, and has a message. Many young readers learn it by heart or recite it for classroom assignment, and the poem sticks with its readers for decades. I know it has for me. Here is this classic poem and my analysis.
The Road Not Taken
By 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.
When I first read this poem in school, I thought it a reflective poem about choices; and I was right to some degree. The writer had 2 choices in life. But I thought he was saying that he chose the way less traveled and was happier for it. This isn’t necessarily what the poem is saying at all.
The writer says both paths were equally trodden–that neither one stood out any more traveled or risky than the other. He writes about the point of decision when he chose one road over the other–doubting he would ever be able to return to the same conditions in life to try the other path. Wisdom told him that life changes things and decisions determine destiny. Once a way is chosen, it alters a lifetime.
To take one road meant he couldn’t take the other. The writer regrets that he had only one lifetime–that he couldn’t experience both roads in life. He wonders about the path he didn’t take and feels regret over not being able to experience the choices and chances of the other path. But he writes that he will one day convince himself that he chose the less-conventional road and that he will be contented with his choice.
“The Road Not Taken” is a reflective poem that causes me think about my present choices and opportunities in life. When I make a choice between two equal opportunities, do I consider how my choice will alter my life and keep me from experiencing the other road’s opportunities? Do I consider my choice to be one that few others would entertain? And finally, do I believe my choice will make all the difference for me?
This classic poem does what a reflective poem should do–it causes me to reflect. What does it do for you?