The Road Not Taken

'The Road Not Taken' by Robert Frost (1874-1963) was published in 1916 in his collection Mountain Interval. The title is often misremembered as 'The Road Less Traveled', from the penultimate line: "I took the one less traveled by". It is his best known poem and much loved.

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth.

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same.

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.

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,
And that has made all the difference.

Anyone who has gone walking in the countryside will know how tempting two diverging paths can be. Which to travel? Much as once we have chosen one path and may wish to walk the other, we know the further we travel down our chosen path, the less the likelihood of coming back to tread the other path.

What is true of two paths in a wood, is equally true of the paths we choose in life.

'The Road Not Taken' is quoted by Paulo Coelho in The Winner Stands Alone. It is being read by Jasmine, a black model. She chooses to take 'the one less traveled by'. To choose ones own path, not that followed by the common herd, to follow ones destiny, is a common theme in the writings of Paulo Coelho. In The Winner Stands Alone it is most apt, a world of celebrity and fashion. This is reinforced a little later when the last two lines come to Jasmine.

The choosing of paths, the risk we take, is a strong theme of Brida by Paulo Coelho.

Literature ~ Robert Frost
(c) Keith Parkins 2009 -- April 2009 rev 1