Posted by: grantahelms | February 22, 2014


forkinroadThe 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.

Robert Frost

Over the course of my 47 years, I have  probably read this poem a dozen times. Every time it means something new to me. And with age comes in-sight. Recently, a nine-year old made me look at writing in a new light. She commented that when she is 16 she wants to dissect a frog. I found that to be interesting. Most girls that I went to school with would get squeamish  at that thought.But it made me start to think that if we dissect everything we do, we may actually learn from it. So I decided to dissect Robert Frost. Figuratively speaking of course.

” What was Frost feeling when he wrote this poem?”

” What is Frost talking about when he uses the metaphor of the road?”

” How does this pertain to us 100 years later?”

It is my belief that the road is a metaphor for life. The fork in the road is the point in our lives where we have to make decisions that will influence the direction our lives will go. As we come to these times in our lives, some decisions are easy and others are not. Therefore, he says he is sorry he cannot travel both. One is long and straight and at first glance it is easy to tell that many have traveled this way. In modern terms, it may be the American dream. Graduation, college, wife, children, house, white picket fence, etc. You all know the drill. The other path may have a shorter view before you get to a curve.This tends to inhibit people’s choice of this direction because in the grand scheme of things, most people want to be able to see their entire life at a glance. Most people don’t like surprises. Most people don’t enjoy the unknown. Thank goodness Christopher Columbus wasn’t one of them.


In the last stanza Frost acknowledges that sometime in the future he would look back on the choice he made, and be happy with it. For the choice of taking the path less traveled would make all the difference in who he had become. He was not a doctor, not a lawyer, not a store clerk but an artist. Someone who could color outside the lines and make it beautiful. Someone who could see life in real color, not black and white.

If he hadn’t taken the road less traveled, would it have made a difference in your life? I guess before I ask that, I should ask if you even know of Robert Frost? Have you read his poetry before, or is this your first introduction to him? Ok, so for those of you don’t of him, here is a short profile.


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. He is highly regarded for his realistic depictions of rural life and his command of American colloquial speech. His work frequently employed settings from rural life in New England in the early twentieth century, using them to examine complex social and philosophical themes. One of the most popular and critically respected American poets of the twentieth century. Frost was honored frequently during his lifetime, receiving 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 poetical works. (via Wikipedia)

So, this is a general break down of the man. But in order to interpret him, you must read his works. However, you may be wrong. He has become classed as one of the most misunderstood poets in American literary history. He was deemed an outcast in his day by critics of Modernistic poetry who classified his work as “too traditional.” Over the years though, many have recanted those accusations saying the his work was “deep and cryptic” with depictions of ordinary life. Take some time, curl up in a chair and see what you think of Robert Frost. I hope you enjoy his work as much as I do.

Now let’s get back to the topic at hand. What does Frost’s writing have to do with our lives? I think he is telling us to be ourselves. Following in the paths of others may be a safe way to travel, but sometimes you lose the beauty of the journey. I mean if you enjoy cruising by shopping centers, malls, big cities with all their attractions, more power to you, but there are times in your life when you could enjoy the country store that is seven miles from my house. When you walk in, it’s like any other convenience store. Chips, soda, bread, motor oil. The usual. But as you wander through the back sections of the store, on one side you find the hardware and the other is a tack room. And they have a grill where you can order hamburgers and fries. All this in one centralized location. When you are done, you get back to life. Without wasting the entire day. More time to smell the roses.

In conclusion, be happy with the path that you chose. Sometimes you can go back, sometimes you can’t. No matter what you do, live life with no regrets and enjoy the journey. Have a great weekend.

“How do you decide which road you will follow when you come to a fork?”

“When a decision doesn’t work out like you hoped, do you go back or do you continue on to see where it takes you?”

“What other American poets do you find noteworthy, and why?”




  1. The same way I choose everything else: List possibilities and calculate probability.

    Never go back. Never.

    Oliver Wendell Holmes. American poetry is not my cup of tea, but there have been some good ones.

  2. I tend to jump in with both feet, often only considering possibilities and taking the road less traveled to avoid congestion.

    I look back, I rarely go back though I am often tempted.

    My preference? Spoken Word, the truly modern poets. But if I had to pick just one or two, Maya Angelou speaks to my heart, Alice Walker, E E Cummings, Shel Silverstein, Lucille Clifton, Cornelius Eady; these are some of who I like in written word.

    • Thanks Val. I love Maya Angelou myself.

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