The Road Not Taken Essay

The Road not Taken
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.

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This poem by Robert Frost is one that has been read in school English classes for years. It is considered to be public domain as it was written in 1916. The questions about this piece of literature will be as follows for this paper: Why did the work capture the reader’s attention? What analytical approach did the reader use to interpret this poem? And what is the meaning of this selected literary work, using the described analytical approach used by the reader? The approach used for interpretation of this poem is the reader response approach, described by the questions above (Clugsgton, 2010). This work captured my attention because of the type of literature presented, through an emotional connection with the work, and by the use of image and metaphor. This poem presents the image of two roads in the woods that come together and then fork. The separation of the roads forces the person–either driving or walking–to choose a path. The metaphor presented in this literary piece is the comparison of the divergence of the roads to the decisions we have to make in our lives. The point of this process is to emphasize that sometimes the choices we make are not going to be popular. “I took the road less traveled by,” which he says has made all the difference. The analytical approach used is the reader response. This requires finding a personal link or imaginative entry into the story, poem or play. The personal link the reader used for this poem is described by “Two roads diverge 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.”

This section of the poem drew me in quickly. My family is in the process of having to make some difficult choices about our future. With the choices facing us, I easily imagined looking at the two paths and trying to decided which would be the best choice. My husband is looking at the possibility of changing jobs, which would require relocating. The possibility of having to go farther from my aging parents in Virginia, a son in college, and one in high school, makes this a very stressful time. Many uncertain aspects lie ahead in our plans for the future. The remainder of the poem describes the uncertainty and indecision we are currently dealing with. It is not a road we have traveled often. Moving is really difficult on everyone involved. It involves fear of the unknown, job searching, address changing, phone calls, finding a new family doctor, and so on. It can quickly become overwhelming. This poem can be interpreted in several different ways. First, the poet is walking in the woods and comes to a split in the path. He has to make a decision on which way to go. Second, he looks at each path and does not see a huge difference because they look similar (2012,07). He wishes he could see to the end. Finally he has to make a choice, and he seems sad that he will not return to this place to see where the other path leads. As he approaches the decision, he wishes that he could do both but knows he can be only one place at a time. “Two Roads Diverge in a yellow wood, and sorry I could not travel both and be one traveler’.

He states that the process of making choices sometimes involves a lengthy thought process, such as “long I stood and looked down one as long as I could.” We sometimes want our choices to be easy and we want to know the outcomes before we actually make the choice. That is not how life works. There are bends in the road, and overgrowth, and leaves on the path so the way is often hidden. The next part of the poem describes the choice the poet made, and how he feels it was the best one later on in life. Sometimes we have to follow our instincts and just make the choice. Even if we choose the path that’s not the best we can decide to make the best of it. The poet makes his choice and decides later in life he is happy with that choice. “I shall be telling this with a sign, somewhere in ages and ages hence, two roads diverge in a wood, and I , I took the one less traveled (Clugsgton, 2010). Sometimes we are faced with choices in our lives that are not easy. We may want an easy solution, or wish we could be two people and make two choices. We have to trust our instincts and make our decision–do our research as best we can and explore the options–but in the end we all stand at two roads that diverge, and the paths look very much the same. The choice is ours.

(2012, 07). Robert Frost Wrote “the Road Not Taken”. Retrieved 07, 2012, from

Clugsgton, R. W. (2010). Journey Into Literature. (E. Evans, Ed.) SanDiego, California, United States : Bridgepoint Education Incorporated.

(Ashford University Library)


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