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.
A beautiful thought on how an individual faces choices in life, standing at a crossroad. This poem is about how difficult it is to be satisfied with how one lives.
The poet,indeed, draws the audience’s attention at how choices can be difficult to be accepted,as while deciding,one overlooks,or rather has to sacrifice the other option which can be more exquisite, but one will never know. Indeed, in the poem,the poet personna prefers the one less trodden as he doubts the one which has been much used. He presumes that the novelty of the road will ensure more success and delight.
The poem is, as well, anecdotal, hinting to the fact that it has inspired from a walk Robert Frost has had with his English-Welsh friend Edward Thomas. The latter complained about having a life-route which less satisfactorily flourishing. Thomas used to sigh at each of exclamations, which Frost found quixotic. Following which he would tease Thomas,saying that the latter would never enjoy his present as he would forever regret his decision,thus missing out the opportunities offered by his decision. A poet,in the real sense of the word, showcases the everyday realities. Here, we have Frost being concerned about his friend treats his decision, overlooking his life but distressing over the unknown.
The central theme of ‘The Road not Taken’ is how it is impossible to determine where a crucial decision can lead one and the repercussions. One,then, often wonders what the other option, the road not taken, will have led to. Then one indulges into emotional upheavals, even hypothetically, that the raod not taken may have been better or worse.
The poem consists of four stanzas, or rather a quintrain (stanza having five lines each). The poem, which looks so simple,holds a traditional rhyme scheme of ABAAB.Yet, on a closer look, the poem is actually metaphorical in composition. It figuratively speaks about how the walker faces two roads and chooses the one that has been least taken. Many, in real life, face this fork of roads or choices, wherein a simple decision can change the course of life, usually forever.
If the tone is usually thoughtful, the poet keeps swinging, jumping from one track to the other. The tone highlights on the innuendos of life, which keep on haunting the decision-maker: ‘what if…’ One keeps on asking oneself as one is human. It is altogether natural for humans to be confounded, yet inquisitive; sure yet unsure; and always comparing the decisions/choices,if an ounce of doubts crops up.
Hence the tone becomes meditative. The poetic persona stands there questioning the two options, weighing the good and the bad, the certitudes versus the incertitudes in a rational way. He feels that missing a point or idea will drain any possibities of success. The unknown worries him. At the outset, the speaker opts for the road which is less travelled, as this is how he likes life to be: unburdened of unwanted details and he prizes his solitude. On ‘the road not taken’ , he believes that he will be undisturbed as he adores his solitude,that is his tranquility. Motivated by a selfish pursuit, he makes his decision. Then he questions himself, longing to know ‘what if…’
Then his mood becomes philosophical,when he grasps the gist of his decision: he has chosen the least used road. The kernel of his angst is not whether he may be right or wrong, but whether he will regret his decision. He suffers as he knows that ages after he will keep on asking himself ‘what if…’ Life decisions are troublesome when one faces the predicament of self-doubts.
Hence this suggests that the poem is quite light-hearted, but it is in truth a reflection of how mostly feel when facing life-choices. The decision-maker keeps on reminiscing on what he has missed and what he will have achieved if he had opted for the road not taken.
The essence of the poem is not the uniqueness presented by the fact that the road is not much used,but the quandary of choosing,which is very much nightmarish for any individual. The person,then, lives in the ‘what if…’ mode : what if the other choice was better?
Frost himself has had harsh decisions to face and he pens the heaviness which such choices may have on one’s life journeys. He,therefore, explores the feeling of angst when one continues to question the unknown,instead of relishing the known,that is the taken decisions.