“Do not follow where the path may lead…Go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.”
– Robert Frost
Everyone is a traveler, choosing the road to follow on the map of his journey, life. There is never a straight path that leaves one with a sole direction in which to head. Regardless of the original message that Robert Frost had intended to convey, his poem, “The Road Not Taken”, has left its readers with many different interpretations. It is one’s past, present, and the attitude with which he looks upon his future that determines light that he will see the poem in. In any case, this poem clearly demonstrates Frost’s belief that it is the road a person chooses that makes him the man he is.
Frost says, “and sorry I could not travel both…” It is always difficult to make a decision because it is impossible not to wonder about the opportunity cost, what will be missed out on. There is a strong sense of regret before the choice is even made. The knowledge that in one lifetime it is impossible to travel down every path is upsetting to some people. In an attempt to make a decision, the traveler “looks down one as far as I could”. The road that will be chosen leads to the unknown, as does any choice in life. As much as he may strain his eyes to see what is down the road, eventually it surpasses his vision and he can never really see where the road is going to lead. The path that he chooses will set him off on his journey and decide where he is going.
“Then took the other, just as fair, and having perhaps the better claim”. What made it have the better claim is that “it was grassy and wanted wear”. It was something obviously not for everyone because it seemed that the majority of people took the other path. Therefore, he calls it “the road less traveled by”. The fact that the traveler took this path over the more popular is a clear indicator as to his character. He is very secure and doesn’t necessarily need to follow the crowd but would rather do his own thing. He wants to do what has never been done, what is new and different.
“And both that morning equally lat in leaves no step had trodden black”. The leaves had covered the ground and since the time they had fallen no on had traveled on this road. Perhaps Frost does this because each time a person comes to the point where they have to make a choice, it is new to them. It is somewhere they have never been and they tend to fell as though no one else had ever been there either. “I kept the first for another day!” The desire to travel down both paths is not unusual, but “knowing how way leads on to way”, the speaker realizes that the decision is not just a temporary one and he “doubted if I should ever come back.” This is his common sense speaking and acknowledging that what he chooses now will affect every other choice he makes later on in his life. Once he has done something or spoken a word that indicates who he really is, there is no turning back, in cannot be undone.
Once again at the end of the poem regret hangs over the traveler. He realizes that at the end of his life, “somewhere ages and ages hence”, he will have the regrets about having never gone back and traveling the road he did not take. Yet, he remains proud of his decision and recognizes that it was this path that he chose which helped him live the life he did. “I took the road less traveled by and that has made all the difference”. To this man, the most important thing was that he did not have to follow the crowd and could stand independent and travel down the road he really wanted to. If he had not, he would not be the same man he is now.
There are many equally valid meanings to this poem and Robert Frost may have intended this. He may have been trying to achieve a universal meaning. In other words, there is no real moral to the poem. There is simply a narrator who makes a decision in his life that changed the direction of his life. It allows all readers from all different experiences to relate to the poem and encourages each to peruse his own dreams and individuality.