What personal choices does the poem "The Road Not Taken" remind you of ?

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dule05 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The poem "The Road Not Taken" is about a speaker who comes to a place where two roads diverge in a yellow wood, and he contemplates what road he should take. Symbolically speaking, this poem talks about the time when we find ourselves at a crossroads and when we must make an important choice which will irrevocably alter our lives. That choice could be related to anything, such as the college we want to go to, or the job we want to accept, or the person we want to be with. Our speaker attempts to look down one road so that he could potentially guess what that road would bring to him if he were to take it:

Long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth...

However, he realizes that we cannot know what awaits us in the future. The poem stresses how we cannot make two choices simultaneously. We must make one choice, which, in consequence, will shape us. And once we do it, we cannot go back to the time when we had another option in front of us:

Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.
The last stanza suggests that we should always take "the road less traveled by," which means that we should not make the easy and popular choices, but the ones that would make our lives more fulfilling.
samuelhughes | Student

The initial lines that read, “Two roads diverged in a yellow road / And sorry I could not travel both” set up the initial conundrum that we are faced with in the poem. (1-2)  The speaker, in this case, actually comes across a literal fork in the road, but it can be figuratively read as coming to a life decision where you can only go in one direction.  This could be something like which college to choose, which profession to go into, or which dog to adopt.  Yes, these things can be altered in some sense after the initial decision, but you cannot go to different colleges or work in two occupations simultaneously.  In “looking down one as far as I could”, the speaker yearns for a glimpse of that possible future, but cannot quite decipher where it may lead him (4).  He is forced to take one road, leaving the other option behind.

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The Road Not Taken

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