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 marked 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.
It would hardly be worth starting the memorization of poetry without hitting some of the all time favorites. “The Road Not Taken” is the perfect poem to start this journey.
Many people will take a shallow reading of this poem and say that ultimately, each man must choose his own path to walk. That is, of course, absolutely true. There is more to it that this because Frost himself said that this was one of his ‘tricky’ poems.
He could be saying that it doesn’t matter which road to take. Just choose one, and perhaps someday, you’ll be able to take the other path, and another journey.
Frost could also be thinking of some past choice of his own. He made his choice and lived his life accordingly. The path he choose didn’t take him back to make the choice again. This would be why he would be telling this story with a sigh after achieving the wisdom of old age. Perhaps there is a bit of regret in the past. Most of us live with regret. I may regret something someday, but for now, I have chosen to live without them. I am more of the type of person who will cast his anchor down where he is (another story) and start from where I am now. It seems more practical to live in the now, as opposed to the past.
Ultimately, whilst there may be some regret at some fork in our lives, Frost isn’t entirely regretful of his decision that “made all the difference.” We, as humans, love to consider the past and how things may have been different if we had acted otherwise. Most of us, if all things were equal, would choose the same things we did before, if possible.
For each decision in our lives, it is hard to know where it will lead. Somethings can be foreseen, but all decisions eventually bend in the undergrowth of the future. There is a nice contrast here between the future which is generally pictured as ahead and above us, while here it is imagined as greenery below us. Our future is like a low green fog that sneaks up on us; and before we know it, we are completely lost in the woods, perhaps not even knowing what brought us to our current condition. That is, of course, seeing the glass as half-empty. The half-full glass shows us that we walk the road to our future, and clear the path before us.
We all must choose our own paths, and we are happier if we can do so without regrets. If there are regrets, we still need to remain sure enough of ourselves and our life’s decisions to remain living. Life is such a wonderful thing. How much more so is the fact that we can choose our lives. We can choose to pursue our life, our liberty, and our happiness.
Have you chosen wisely?