Words, poetry, and thoughts on the side.A Personal Note Words, Slantwise Questions Submissions
The Road Not Taken can be seen as a poem about regret. At first glance, it appears to be celebrate individualism, but in actuality it represents a means of coping with regret. From the beginning, the speaker posits a dilemma in the form of a metaphor: “two roads diverged in a yellow wood.” The speaker laments that he wishes he could travel both “and be one travel,” but he acknowledges this is not possible. What is more, “knowing how way leads on to way [he] doubts if [he] should ever come back.” What matters, however, is that he took “the [road] less travelled” which “has made all the difference.” Taking the road less travelled it would seem is what gives the speaker a sense of meaning. That is to say, doing something others have not done, choosing the path others haven’t travelled, is what “makes all the difference” in the end. However, on closer reading, this is not what actually makes all the difference. The speaker confesses in second stanza that both paths were “about the same.” Going on to say in the third stanza that “both that morning equally lay in leaves no step had trodden black.” There is, in fact, no difference between the two paths on offer. In light of this, the meaning of the final stanza becomes apparent: the speaker is revising his past to justify his arbitrary decision. In the final stanza the speaker is projecting into the future: “I shall be tell this with a sigh ages and ages hence.” The most poignant moment comes in the next two lines. The moment of revision is palpable. The repetition of the pronoun “I” separated by a pause, represents the moment of pregnant reflection in the speaker’s mind where the revision takes place: “I – I took the one less travelled by, and that has made all the difference.” To assuage his sense of regret, the speaker invents the difference.