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The Road Not Taken

Robert Frost

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"one [person] less traveled by"
2003-01-19
Added by: julie
i was just reading this poem again for the first time since high school (12 yrs!), in search of some inspiration for a choice-process of my own.

reading it now, with nothing but the basic interpretations left in my mind, i find these usual interpretation seem to be inferring much that isn't written in the poem.

for example: everyone argues he choses the less traveled path, and therefore the more difficult and challenging path.

this is an assumption, that the less traveled path will be more difficult and challenging. true it might be, but then, it could be easier without all the competition! it would really depend on the circumstances i would think. plus, i argue it isn't really less traveled by a ton of people--only one, because "for that passing there" it is the same, my inferance here being that frost is referring to his own passing there.

rather, the difference is that the one he does choose (and he does actually choose it "then took the other" right? the additional as in "as just as fair" is throwing me off some) because it had a better claim to being "fair," because it was grassy and wanted wear.

this sounds like a good difference to me...a grassy path. he liked it better (better claim), saying it was more fair.

second, once he had taken the second path, the paths were equally worn--though now his path has disturbed leaves.

my point: "i took the one less traveled by" i think can be interpretted literally with minor grammatical hand waving: he chose the path that had apparently been traveled by one less person than the other--e.g., "i took the one traveled by one less."

and this is why it makes so much difference (and here, too, we don't actually know if the difference is positive or negative--it doesn't say...it doesn't even say if it made the difference to just him, or in the "bigger picture.") a sigh can be both a sign of regret as well as a sign of relief.

i could be way off, but i like this interpretation...frost is very choosy with his words, so the play on words makes the interpretation deeper and simpler...a zen-like, be here now approach:

when making a choice, it is not about you versus the crowd. it is not about trying to anticipate what might be more difficult or easy. it is not even about the impact this will have on your personal future life or the greater good of mankind or the planet.

make the decision based on the NOW. make the decision solely for YOU. what will make you happy. how many people walked down either is irrelevant. what path you walk down will affect both paths the same in the end (no grass, messed up leaves)...but, you have the choice of a fair and grassy path that seems to want you!

this isn't a necessarily a challenge or more difficult. it actually seems like the more pleasant path, for you, at that time, simply because it was "one [person] less traveled by" before you got there.

and that does make a difference in life--not in results, not in impact, not in the challenge, but in how much you enjoyed the walk along the way!

(i have noticed that frost's own comments over the years end up being ambiguous regarding both the inspiration and the sigh...i think he has had great fun with us. he has said less, not more...our errors lie in going beyond what is actually there...which is where our errors can lie in making decisions!)i was just reading this poem again for the first time since high school (12 yrs!), in search of some inspiration for a choice-process of my own.

reading it now, with nothing but the basic interpretations left in my mind, i find these usual interpretation seem to be inferring much that isn't written in the poem.

for example: everyone argues he choses the less traveled path, and therefore the more difficult and challenging path.

this is an assumption, that the less traveled path will be more difficult and challenging. true it might be, but then, it could be easier without all the competition! it would really depend on the circumstances i would think. plus, i argue it isn't really less traveled by a ton of people--only one, because "for that passing there" it is the same, my inferance here being that frost is referring to his own passing there.

rather, the difference is that the one he does choose (and he does actually choose it "then took the other" right? the additional as in "as just as fair" is throwing me off some) because it had a better claim to being "fair," because it was grassy and wanted wear.

this sounds like a good difference to me...a grassy path. he liked it better (better claim), saying it was more fair.

second, once he had taken the second path, the paths were equally worn--though now his path has disturbed leaves.

my point: "i took the one less traveled by" i think can be interpretted literally with minor grammatical hand waving: he chose the path that had apparently been traveled by one less person than the other--e.g., "i took the one traveled by one less."

and this is why it makes so much difference (and here, too, we don't actually know if the difference is positive or negative--it doesn't say...it doesn't even say if it made the difference to just him, or in the "bigger picture.") a sigh can be both a sign of regret as well as a sign of relief.

i could be way off, but i like this interpretation...frost is very choosy with his words, so the play on words makes the interpretation deeper and simpler...a zen-like, be here now approach:

when making a choice, it is not about you versus the crowd. it is not about trying to anticipate what might be more difficult or easy. it is not even about the impact this will have on your personal future life or the greater good of mankind or the planet.

make the decision based on the NOW. make the decision solely for YOU. what will make you happy. how many people walked down either is irrelevant. what path you walk down will affect both paths the same in the end (no grass, messed up leaves)...but, you have the choice of a fair and grassy path that seems to want you!

this isn't a necessarily a challenge or more difficult. it actually seems like the more pleasant path, for you, at that time, simply because it was "one [person] less traveled by" before you got there.

and that does make a difference in life--not in results, not in impact, not in the challenge, but in how much you enjoyed the walk along the way!

(i have noticed that frost's own comments over the years end up being ambiguous regarding both the inspiration and the sigh...i think he has had great fun with us. he has said less, not more...our errors lie in going beyond what is actually there...which is where our errors can lie in making decisions!)
Not wanting wear
2003-02-07
Added by: paul
well it certainly appears that this comments page is becoming well trod.

If you side on the "tongue in cheek" theories expounded above then perhaps you should have a look at the most excellent Philip Larkin's poems.

He, too, plays with obvious interpretations and ambiguous meanings, resulting in delightful debate. I earn no commission for this plug!
2003-02-03
Added by: joe
i agree with christopher: look at the title: the road not taken. this poem does not center on the path taken and any joy or sorrow that results, but rather considers the "road not taken;" the poem is a lament and the thesis is the inevitablility of that lament. not matter which road the traveler were to take, he would feel that hint of regretful curiosity later on. if he believed that one path would NOT leave him pondering what he had missed, he would've taken it, but as it were, he saw to relatively equal paths and picked one, knowing full well that he may later regret it.

i don't believe all poems must be reduced to a pithy epigram or lesson. rather, many poems (ex. this one) simply serve to illustrate some emotion or idea- in this case, i believe, frost is trying to depict that ambiguous sense of longing and regret we all feel looking back on the past and the decisions we've made. doesn't matter if we made the right decision or not, or even if we're convinced we've picked the best of the paths, we're forever plagued by a sinking sense of HAVING missed something better that what we have.
opportunity is equal
2003-02-21
Added by: Dinah
Robert Frost's The Road Not Taken is one of my favorite poems. The reason I am fond of it is that all of us are facing the same problem throughout the journey of life. Which way should I take? We may ask ourselves the same question. The fact comes out to be that we do have to make a choice, whether you are aware of it or not. The action of not making any decision is a decision itself. As we all know, humans tend to the good side of things, they never put themselves INTO trouble. Therefore, I think even we are willing to encounter diversity, it is due to the sacrefice will be worth the experience. We can have a more strong will. The road not taken may be a road of less promising. I mean it is a road that the travellor will foresee what will be going on in the future. The future is like that. why don't we choose alternate one, which we may be rewarded with more. Life is gambling. fail or succeed, it is your fate. never regret your choice.
2003-04-06
Added by: D.P.
Why does everyone have to look so deep inside it? we all come to a crossroads in our life, he came to his. As he was a brilliant human being he chose to take the new road, to explore. What was beyond the road did not really matter, he was probably disappointed in what he encountered there anyway. The point is the choice he made to take the untroden path. He didn't "go with the flow", that's exactly what made Robert Frost Robert Frost or any other such genius, how else does one change and become better?
A jail called life
2003-05-03
Added by: Mohammad Hadi
The wondering atmosphere and the sense of absurdity of situation is the dominant theme of " the Road not Taken".As a man you can fell what the poet is going to say: " there is no way out despite of choosing one of the way to pass the life and ultimately to pass the way and you dont have enough time to make up the fault..." .So may be Frost is talking about " Gabr" i.e Determinism.

Mohammad Hadi Daryaei
Senior Expertr and Translator
Nothing to do with choices
2003-05-19
Added by: Gwen
This poem has absolutely nothing to do with making choices. In the poem frost says "equally" and "same" about the roads yet in the end he says one is less traveled. The poem is about idealizing situations with no significance. Frost said so himself in one of his biographies.
Similar, don't you think?
2003-06-02
Added by: Mike Vegeto
I have noticed that this poem could, in theory be compared in basic message to the novel Dune by Frank Herbert. This poem is saying that the coices we make in life are based on our experiences in life, and our judgement, (basically the same thing). It is saying that the only thing fixed in life is the past, we can not go back, but only forward. Our own choices prevent things like destiny, fate, and such from being possible. Now, you may argue that this is wrong, and that the choices we make are guided by destiny, but in reality, as conveyed by both works of literature, this is not true. What would be the point of life, existence, if our lives were pre-concieved by some omnipotent being or fate, and so on. Granted that we, as humans, could not possibly guess the agendas or reasoning if gods, but we must go with hat makes sense, and life without a point does not make sense.
2003-08-15
Added by: Martin Bradley
I think this is a wry and witty poem. He is poking fun at someone. The choice of path is described in a delightfully obsessive way - I would prefer the one that would benefit from treading down a bit but, hang on, once I have walked down the less worn path it will be just as worn as the other, so do I choose the path that is less worn at the start or do I balance up the paths (a need for symmetry and balance being typical obsessive features). There then follows further angst over the likely significance of this decision. The last line reveals all - it does not have the expected rhythm, doesn't rhyme and is in the present tense. It is the cry of the neurotic pessimist, lacking the dignity of the poems rhythm it is shown as a whinge. Of course it wasn't (or won't be) the road not taken that made all the difference, it was the subjects abilities and faults
the road not taken
2003-08-27
Added by: ashley
Even though the poem sounds like it is giving a positive message, it's really a negative one. The message I get from it is, no matter what decision you make, there will always be one you regret not making.. which is why it's called, the road NOT taken.
(i discussed the poem with a friend and we came to that conclusion)

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