The Road Not Taken
“The Road Not Taken” is a narrative poem published in 1916. It is one of the most famous poems that captured the fascination of so many people and often misunderstood or misinterpreted.
Some people would say that there is no single meaning or interpretation of a poem and its significance lie in the mind of the writer at the time he wrote the poem.
The Road Not Taken
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveller, 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 travelled by,
And that has made all the difference. (Source)
Here’s a short recap of the poem:
The narrator in the poem encountered a problem when the road he was travelling became two separate paths. As a solo traveller, he could not take both routes. He stood for long to see where each road would lead him. Since he cannot travel on both paths, he was considering the best possible option before deciding which direction to take. However, he could not see the road very well because the forest was dense with leaves and vines.
He figured out that taking the other path was a better option because it was grassy. It looked like no one had walked there. Upon walking on that road, he realised that the grass had worn away the same as the other road because they both been travelled equally. In other words, the same number of people must have walked on that road.
Both roads have a similar condition of wear. Without uncertainty, he decided that over time he would take the other road even though he had doubts if he would ever come back there again.
At some point in the future, he would tell that he was confronted with a problem when two roads diverged in some wood. He had to make a hard choice about which route to take. His decision to take the road that was less travelled by made all the difference in his life.
The Road Not Taken is the most well-known poem of our time. After reading it through, I was deeply immersed in thoughts for its complexities and sophistication.
Poems are presented to us to be enjoyed and interpreted. It is not something that we can argue or prove, instead, it is for us to understand the significance of every single word the writer was trying to express.
The message in this poem is about making a choice. Every day in our lives we make simple choices– what food to eat, what clothes to wear, what shows to watch on the television, or where to go for our next holiday. We make hard choices too where our lives, our friends and families, our total well-being, our future and career entirely depend on that choice.
Making a choice is more difficult if what we are hoping to achieve is not visible on the other side of the road. Making a wise decision and picking the right path is the choice that we all have to take.
If our actions resulted in the improvement of our lives, then that decision to take that path had a positive outcome.
No matter which road we take, it is a considerable risk, and all we can do is hope for the best. Our choices will always make a big difference in our lives.
This is my personal view of this poem. If you have your own, I’ll be glad to hear it from you.
Till next time, enjoy the pleasures of life.