Two Roads Diverged in a Yellow Wood
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 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 reading of the poem by the author:
About the Author
Robert Lee Frost (March 26, 1874 – January 29, 1963) was an American poet. His work was initially published in England before it was published in America. Known for his realistic depictions of rural life and his command of American colloquial speech, Frost frequently wrote about settings from rural life in New England in the early twentieth century, using them to examine complex social and philosophical themes.
Frost was honored frequently during his lifetime and is the only poet to receive four Pulitzer Prizes for Poetry. He became one of America’s rare “public literary figures, almost an artistic institution.” He was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal in 1960 for his poetic works. On July 22, 1961, Frost was named poet laureate of Vermont.
About the Poem
“The Road Not Taken” is a poem that prompts the reader to think about
choices in life, whether to go with the mainstream (the well-travelled road) or take the lonelier path (the road less traveled). If life is a journey, this poem highlights the times in life when a decision has to be made, and it is so hard to make it. Which way will you go? What do you do?
The ambiguity springs from the question of free will versus fate, or have the choices made. Does the speaker in the poem intentionally, consciously decide to take the road that is off the beaten path, or only do so because he doesn’t like the aesthetic of the road with the more wear and a bend in it? He just goes where more people have not seemed to have gone – and therefore leads other people to make up his mind for him. That decision born of indecision leave him to question himself later.
“The Road Not Taken” is all about what did not happen: This person, faced with an important conscious decision, chose the least popular, the path of most resistance. He was destined to go down one or the other. Since nobody can take divergent paths simultaneously, he sacrifices one in favor of the other, something everybody has to do at one time or another.