"The Road Not Taken" is traditionally taken to mean that it can be better to take the less conventional path in life. In the poem, a man is walking through the woods, when he comes to a fork in the path. He has to make a decision about which way to turn. He takes a long time trying to decide, and notices that one path is slightly less traveled, saying,
it was grassy and wanted wear
However, he also notes that the differences between the two paths are subtle—they are "really about the same"—and both were untraveled that day:
And both that morning equally lay / In leaves no step had trodden black
Nevertheless, the speaker decides to take the road "less travelled by." While he wishes at the time he could take both paths, and while he reflects that there is little likelihood he will ever come back and take the other path, he states that it has "made all the difference" to take the less traveled route.
While the poem is most often interpreted as a metaphor
for the very American, Emersonian ideal of nonconformity and breaking with tradition, as many critics and Frost biographers have noted, he wrote the poem while living in England as a gentle ribbing of an indecisive walking companion.
While Frost may have written the poem as a light-hearted joke—and the speaker's emphasis on how really alike the roads are supports this—the poem is a good example of how readers can determine meaning once a work of literature is let loose in the world.