person walking through a forest

The Road Not Taken

by Robert Frost

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What do the two roads symbolize in life and what difference does the poem refer to?

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The crossing or divergence of the two roads in the poem, “The Road Not Taken” by Robert Frost appears to deal with the decisions the speaker has made about life and how s/he has led it than about life itself.

Written by a more mature speaker, who has enjoyed the sensuous beauty and wisdom gained from h/his journey,  one can glean the leisurely, relaxed, contented tone suggested by such diction as “yellow wood”, “know how way leads on to way”, “somewhere ages and ages hence” and “that has made all the difference.”  Vibrant in its almost breathless excitement and participation in living, one becomes aware of its universality and timelessness of sensuous imagery, like “..To where it bent in the undergrowth”, “…I took the other”, “I kept the first for another for another day”, “…I shall be telling this with a sigh”.

Like so many of us starting out in life, the speaker wanted both roads, but realized his limitation of "be{ing} one traveler".  In the excitement of leaving tracks on the road that "was grassy and wanted wear", the speaker both freed and limited h/herself by selecting the challenge of the direction taken and by leaving behind the possibilities of the other.  However, s/he appears satisfied with the choices as s/he looks forward to telling about “I took the one less traveled by,/And that has made all the difference.”

These last lines can be both inspirational and encouraging for us especially when confronted with the challenge of which is the “right” as opposed to which is easiest and/or the most popular route to take.  The poem remains upbeat in its supportive tone of the advantage of personal decision-making; for the speaker, it definitely has rendered joy and satisfaction.

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There are often times in our lives that we come across choices to make.  We have to go one way or another.  That is what the two roads are referring to.  The path could be any facet of life.

The fact that the speaker of the poem chose his own route--and not one that everyone else has chosen before him--makes him different.  He's not a follower.  He's his own leader.  That is what mattered to him in the end.  He went his own way and did what he had to do in order to succeed. 

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