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Few people may realize that Robert Frost's poem The Road Not Taken was actually meant to be a joke at the expense of his good friend and fellow poet Edward Thomas. While Frost was living abroad in England, he and his friend would frequently go on walks through the countryside. Thomas was always eager to show something special to his American friend and would choose one path over another. Frost noted that these countryside excursions often ended with Thomas sighing over what might have happened if they had taken another path. Frost liked to tease Thomas over his indecisiveness and regret in these situations. When he returned to the United States, Frost penned his now famous poem. He put himself in the place of his English friend and imagined that this choice of roads to choose could apply to all of life's important choices. He then sent the poem to Thomas. However, Thomas loved the poem and did not realize (at least not at first) that it was meant as friendly teasing of him.

Even though most readers today think of this poem as a metaphor for one's life decisions, Frost did not mean it to be taken this way. As he once said of the piece "You have to be careful of that one; it's a trick poem—very tricky."

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Although many readers like to take this poem quite seriously and analyze how it deeply brings to light the fact that some decisions have profound future repercussions, Robert Frost originally wrote the poem as a joke. Frost was friends with another poet named Edward Thomas, and the two of them would take walks together. Apparently, Thomas was constantly indecisive about choosing which road or path the two of them should take, and he constantly would lament to Frost about how he believed that they should have taken the other road. Frost wrote "The Road Not Taken" in response to these outings with Thomas and as a way to lightly tease his friend. Thomas didn't get the joke, and it took several letters from Frost to explain that his poem wasn't meant to be taken as deeply as Thomas (and many other readers) took the poem.

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Robert Frost's well-known poem "The Road Not Taken" might be inspired by a decision the poet made at some critical time in the past. He likely had to decide between devoting his life to his poetry or compromising, as many creative persons do, by taking the more practical course, or "road," leading to a career that would provide security and comfort and hopefully allow him time for his art. Frost chose to lead an austere life and devote his life to poetry.

Frost was called and chosen. He was one of the few fortunate ones. Incidentally, an interesting and amusing example of a poet who was not chosen can be found in John Collier's short story "Evening Primrose," included in his 1951 collection Fancies and Goodnights.

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