The Road Not Taken and the Journey of Life Road No

t Taken essaysThe Road Not Taken and the Journey of Life

This poem by Robert Frost was first read to me in the last year of my high school experience. Back then, not only did I have absolutely no interest in any literary work, but moreover, had no intension to lye there and analyze a poem into its symbolic definitions. Only now have I been taught the proper way to read a literary work as a formalistic critic might read. With this new approach to literature I can understand the underlying meaning to Robert Frost’s “The Road Not Taken”. In addition to merely grasping the author’s intension, I was able to justly incur that this poem, without directly mentioning anything about life’s decisions, is in its entirety about just that.

Robert Frost interpreted most of the decisions we make in life into this twenty-line poem of a man choosing which path to take in a “yellow wood”. Everyday I make a decision to do a certain task, take that certain walk, or to sit at home and do absolutely nothing. Being one person, I can never know for sure what the exact outcome might be if I were to choose the other decision. For instance, I take a leisurely walk every night and I sacrifice my time to do something else. Although this may not always account to me personally, I do sometimes think what the other choice may have brought me. And often times, I complete the task with a sense of relief, a “sigh” perhaps, that the choice I made turned to be a well-made decision. Though most people rarely look into the sacrifice of decision making the way Robert Frost does, it is indeed a highly examined way too understand “a path less traveled by”.


The first stanza introduced the reader to the decision the author would have to make. “Two roads diverged in a yellow wood” to me signified that the result of his decision would arise from the same origin to which in my own life, I can reflect on. And though he would like to have seen the outcome of both paths, he knew he could only choose one. And to help him decide, he would look down both choices and see only until the road took a bend. This is often the case with real life decisions where one can only predict the decision to a certain point because life is not a straight path and is often entangled with the uncertainty of twists and turns.

The second stanza brought Robert Frost on taking risk on the path less traveled on. Then speaking in a past tense he knew that his particular decision was a one-time choice and that after passing the path, he had worn both roads equally the same. This signified the way a decision is used only once for a particular choice and it can’t be “unworn”.

Again he wonders what the first path may have brought him in the third stanza by “wanting to keep the first for another day”. And the point of not returning was again emphasized when he mentions “Yet knowing how way leads onto way, I doubted if I should ever come back”. This stanza related to life in that when decisions are made for a particular choice, you couldn’t return and take the other. I however did not like the way lines 13 and 14 worked against each other. Why would he bother saving the other decision if he doubted he would ever return to the same choice?

In the final stanza, he mentions how he will “be telling this with a sigh” and this defines a double meaning for me. I am not sure whether he is happy that he took the road less traveled by in a sense of relief, or if he is sad that he had lost what outcome might have arisen from taking the first path. And with that I am not sure whether the last line signifies a happy or a sad ending. By writing “And that has made all the difference”, I could understand either good or bad outcome.

All together, I really enjoyed reading this story with the newfound knowledge of properly reading a poem. I also enjoyed the comparison between the fork in the road to everyday decisions we make in life. And how the fork seemed to me as a two dimensional point with meaning that can be taken only so far, I could understand a more three dimensional aspect to life and the choices that are put amongst us.