Updated: Apr 11, 2022
The Road not taken appeared as the first poem in one of Robert Frost's poetry collections titled, Mountain Interval (1916). The first copy of this poem was mailed to Edward Thomas in 1915. The poem has 4 stanzas written in narrative technique. The rhyme scheme of the poem is ‘ABAAB’. This poem has a lot of controversial arguments by critics. Many interpret it differently and this is considered to be Frost’s most misunderstood poem. The theme of the poem is “parting of paths in life and how an individual’s choice changes everything.”
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.
The poet in the poem narrates an incident where he has to choose a path in a road-fork in a yellow woods (it is autumn). He says that he saw the fork and felt sorry that he cannot travel both paths. He is a single traveler who stood there still for a long time and tried to look as far as he could look deep inside each path. All he could see is the dense forest and grass not what was behind them.
In the second stanza, the poet started to walk in the path that looked fair i.e. without any obvious leg prints. He thought that this should be the better path in comparison to both. He says that the road appeared as if it wanted to get tired with its walk. But while walking, his mind thought about the possibility of choosing the wrong path and what if both the paths were equally used.
In the third stanza, the poet says how he found no trace of leg prints in any of the yellow leaves. He thought for instance what if he keeps the first path for another day. Here, his mind again brought him a possibility where he might not get the chance of returning to this same fork ever again.
In the final stanza, he took the road, he chose the one with less usage (path with fewer legs prints). He then, while walking, thinks of the future where he says to somebody, that once he stood in front of a fork in a road where he had to choose a path and the result of it is responsible for the differences in his life.