“Yet knowing how way leads on to way, I doubted if I should ever come back..”
Poem’s Meaning according to Ben Kageyama:
“Robert Frost spent some time in Great Britain during the early 20th century. In his time there, he made friends with a fellow poet named Edward Thomas. For inspiration and leisure, the duo would often go for walks around the English countryside.
“Thomas had an odd habit of regretting whichever path he took during his strolls with Frost. He’d often state that if they had gone another way, then Frost would’ve been able to see some other interesting part of England.
“Frost found this amusing because any path they decided on would certainly have the same result. Any choice would have to give up one for the other. Fussing over this inevitability, at least for Frost, was silly.
“When Frost went back to America around the beginning of World War I, he wrote an early version of “The Road Not Taken” as a way to make fun of his frantic friend.
“Frost wrote the poem to demonstrate the folly of regretting what could have been. A closer reading of the text in its entirety shows that the persona actually thinks both roads weren’t so different from each other.”
Read Ben’s full essay here.
Poem: 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.