The Road Not Taken is a poem written by American poet Robert Frost. He penned the poem in 1915, and it was written in England. In this article, we will present a concise yet detailed summary of the poem The Road Not Taken.
The Road Not Taken 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.
Short Summary of The Road Not Taken
In the poem ‘The Road Not Taken,’ we find the speaker (and the poet) facing a dilemma. There are two roads ahead of the speaker and he cannot decide which road to take.
The speaker says that since he is one, he cannot take both roads. This choice makes him wait and think for very long. The speaker also tries to look as far as he can down the road to make the choice easier.
The ‘two roads’ is a metaphor for the choices that we face in our lives. Whatever we do, we always have to choose. Some choices are easier because we know their consequences. But some choices are difficult since we do not know where they will lead us.
We try to think as much as we can about the ‘better’ choice, leading to a lot of waiting and thinking. We cannot choose both and must settle with one.
The speaker then says that he took the other road as it looked ‘just as fair’ and it was grassy and wanted wear. This line leads to people think that the road taken was the least traveled.
But later we see that both the paths were equally worn; The paths were equally the same. Since the speaker wanted to make a choice, he decided to think that the road he was taking was the least traveled.
This ‘assumption’ made it easier for the speaker to choose and move ahead. It serves as a metaphor that when we are facing some choice in life, it is better to ‘assume’ what we are choosing is better and move ahead.
Apart from assuming, the speaker also consoles his heart by saying that he left the other road for another day, since the heart wants to travel both roads.
Even though the speaker knows that he is not going to come back there again, he consoles the heart by saying that he will take the other road some other day. This brings the heart to rest and makes moving ahead easier.
In the final stanza, the speaker thinks about the future and all the regrets that will be present then. He realizes that one day he will think about this choice with a sigh.
He will think about how taking the road that he has taken will make all the difference. Good or bad does not matter, but he knows that these two roads lead to two very different destinations. The choice he made ‘makes a difference.’
The meaning of this metaphor is that no matter what choice you make, big choices will always lead to regret. If the speaker had taken the other road, the consequences would have been the same; regret.
You will always think about ‘what could have been’ no matter what choice you make. So instead of worrying about what choice will lead to, it is better to console the heart and move ahead.
Thinking too much about what road to take and which choice to make can lead to you not living a life. The poem is about making a choice and even though it will lead to regret, it is about moving ahead.
Keep moving ahead and accept that life is full of regrets and there is no way of getting rid of it. What matters the most is you are moving ahead. That makes all the difference.