This morning my eye was caught by a discussion about one of my favourite poems, ‘The Road Not Taken’ by Robert Frost. The discussion was about whether the narrator was happy, sad, or indifferent about his choice to take “the one less travelled by”.
This discussion took me a little by surprise as I have always thought of poem as a celebration of the idiosyncratic choice. In re-reading the text (see below) I can see how people might have other interpretations, but for me the poem remains a personal endorsement for the way less travelled by. Perhaps it is part of the genius of Frost to allow the reader to reflect their own optimism or pessimism when they read the poem.
The Road Not Taken
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.