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 don’t have enough poetry in my life. Probably many people don’t. I used to enjoy poetry regularly and even write a piece every now and then. Long gone are those times…
I recently finally read this poem—and because I interpreted it differently at first, I decided to share it here on my blog. Of course, it is also because I like the poem and the message it is “hiding.” Maybe you read it already, maybe you haven’t, but based on what I heard, many people misinterpret it. In fact, it is supposed to be among the best-known, most-often-misunderstood poems on the planet.
At the first reading, one might think the poem says how the speaker took the less beaten path and that made all the difference.
Read it once again though and you may realize that is not the case—the speaker admits that both paths were perhaps equally untouched that morning; neither of the roads was less traveled by.
He then goes on to predict that in the future, he shall be saying that he has chosen the less beaten path—meaning that he might be stretching the facts or that he himself will later believe that he has chosen the one less traveled by. It deals with how that moment of decision will look (differently) from a future perspective.
In addition, all the speaker says about the consequences is that it has made all the difference. That can mean both positive and negative.
The Road Not Taken is a poem about choice. It tells one powerful truth about choices: We can always only know the consequences of the choice that we have made. We might sometimes wonder what would life be like, if we decided otherwise; we might play out different scenarios in our heads, but the fact is—we will never know.
Further analysis can be found at SparkNotes or Shmoop.
What do you think of this poem? What is your takeaway?