In "The Road Not Taken," what meaning do you derive from the poem? In "The Road Not Taken," what meaning do you derive from the poem?  

Expert Answers
lsumner eNotes educator| Certified Educator

"The Road Not Taken" is a poem about the other road. The other road is the road the speaker did not take. There is something about the other road that causes the speaker to sigh in remembrance of not taking it. The sigh seems to be a sad sigh, simply because he could not take both roads. Obviously, choices in life often leave one with a sad feeling because one could not choose both roads.

True to his word, the speaker is telling this with a sigh. He took the road that many people avoided:

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,

While reading this poem, the reader is curious as to why the speaker is sighing. What could the road not taken have been like? What is so special about the road not taken? Would that road have made a difference too? The speaker will never know because he did not take the other road. The fact that the speaker is still thinking about the other road causes the reader to wonder as well.

In the end, the speaker feels his decision has made all the difference. In a sense, the speaker is trying to convince himself that he took the right road. However, the fact that the speaker is still thinking about the other road is an indication that he will forever have a doubt. Truly, this poem is about the other road, the road the speaker did not take. Seeing as how "way leads on to way," the speaker doubts that he shall ever go back. Therefore, he visits the idea of taking the other road only in his memory:

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.

The reader is not to worry or have a serious concern. The speaker took the road less traveled by and claims that the road he took "made all the difference."

pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The meaning that I derive from this poem is that we are not always honest with ourselves.

In this poem, the speaker gives us many clues that show us that there was not really much of a difference between the two roads.  However, the speaker still sits back and remembers his decision and says that it was momentous.  The poem tells me that we need to be honest with ourselves about the importance of various things we do and about our motives in doing those things.  We should not try to act as if we have acted for some grand reason when our actual reasons were much more random (as was the speaker's choice in taking the road he took).

accessteacher eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I think for me, the meaning I extract from this excellent poem is a meditation on the ultimate "What if?" kind of question. When we look back upon our lives and wonder about where we could be if we had made a different decision, we are understanding the kind of message that Frost is trying to capture. I don't actually agree with #6. I think the poem doesn't give us enough evidence either way to say whether the speaker is happy with his present life. Whether we are happy or not, we all have moments when we look back and wish we had made a different decision, and wonder where we would be if we had done so.

Karen P.L. Hardison eNotes educator| Certified Educator

This poem is a reflection upon the ultimate outcomes of our controversial choices in life. The speaker in the poem is faced with a controversial choice: should he follow the common path or follow his interest in a path not well-trodden by other feet? It turns out that upon retrospection later in life, he can say that he is content that he took the path that lacked travelers.

kiwi eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Frost is also encouraging reflection on our past to shape the future. He cannot take the other path as it is in the past, but he can reflect on the 'difference' it has made to his life. I agree with earlier posts that the difference can be positive or negative. I think that Frost is encouraging the reader to learn from past decisions.

litteacher8 eNotes educator| Certified Educator
I personally think that the road not taken meaning all the difference can be interpreted different ways. It might have been a positive difference, or a negative difference. Although I like to think that going off the beaten path has better results, we have to leave it open to other interpretations.
roshazel | Student

the author thinks on what he should choose between the two roads, and for he to make the difference, he took the road less traveled by.

road- choices/ decisions

yellow wood- time

leaves- time passed