An Analysis of the Road not Taken
What do his words really mean?
“The two roads diverged in a wood, and I, I took the one less traveled by and that has made all the difference.”
- Robert Frost (The road not taken)
After reading this poem a few times, it is right for one to wonder what exactly Frost was thinking when he etched these simple yet convincing words onto his paper. This poem has become a source of inspiration for millions who look to his words as a way of being ‘adventurous’. I think that Frost’s message for us goes deeper than just adventure. I think that he realized much about life, and the path that it has set for us.
The above excerpt presents the reader with a choice between two separate paths. Both leading to different outcomes. The first path, the most taken. Is trusted, tried, and true. We know that it is safe, and leads to ease of living. The second path, is not tested. Few take the path because there are unforeseen obstacles lurking in the shadows.
Frost, expressed how he took the road less taken. One he knew would be more difficult. One he knew would have ups and downs. One he also knew would be an adventure. A journey of a life.
I find his concluding statement in that sentence to be the most inspiring. “That has made all the difference.” To me, Frost’s statement here is a statement of rejoice. Expressing gratitude for all the turmoil and challenges that life has thrown at him. He could have lived the easy life, he could have settled for something less, but he didn’t. He went above and beyond. He tested himself, and he was a better man for it.
Frost is known for the last two lines of his poem, but there are other great one liners, such as “long I stood” or “sorry that I could not travel both.” Even the two lines, “Yet knowing how way leads on to way, I doubted if I should ever come back,” express his deepest thoughts and convictions. See, I think that Frost knew the consequences of his decision. Every life decision has consequences. He stood long pondering for he knew that his decision would be final. We cannot choose two paths in life. We must choose the one we see fit and do our best to make it work. As he said, “way leads on to way,” not everything in life is an end, but everything builds off of something else. He also knew that once he exposed himself to the untamed, he’d never be able to return to simplicity.
In many ways, I think that travelers face the same dilemmas. We are often torn between choosing a life path that best suits us. On the one hand, we see what average people in society do. On the other, we see a destiny of dreams before us. We see everything that we have ever dreamed of being and more. It is just often difficult to work towards, which is why we ‘stand’ for so “long” pondering our outcomes. When we pursue our dreams at full speed, we know that we can never return. We can never recapture the simplicity and innocence of life. We are exposed to a different dimension. We doubt if we should ever come back.
Frost’s message is a powerful one. The two paths can represent a number of things metaphorically. Perhaps, Frost knew that pursuing the more traveled road would be living someone else’s life. Not his own.
He realized that life wouldn’t be as easy. He knew that there would be new challenges and obstacles along the way. Frost also knew that his new path would lead to personal glory. He realized what few ever do: true freedom comes only from living your own path.
The beautiful thing about writing and poetry is that the meaning will change depending on who is reading the words. Much like art, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. We interpret our current life by using our past experiences. Frost’s words speak to me in a certain way, how do they speak to you?
What are your thoughts?
What do you think about the poem?
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