The Road Not Taken Poem Summary and Line by Line Analysis by Robert Frost in English


“The Road Not Taken,” one of Robert Frost’s most famous poems, was written in Britain in 1915. The poem offers a variety of interpretations, despite being frequently seen as a celebration of strong individuality. When given a choice between two routes in the poem, the speaker chooses the less travelled route, which he believes made all the differences in his life.

About The Poet

Poet Robert Lee Frost was American. Before being published in the United States, his work was first made available in England. He was born in San Francisco, California, on March 26, 1874. 29 January 1963 was the date of his death in Boston, Massachusetts.

Theme Of The Poem

The speaker in “The Road Not Taken” describes having to decide between the possible paths in life. The speaker’s decision serves as a metaphor for the challenges and decisions that he will face in his life ahead.

Lines 1-5

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;

This stanza’s opening lines highlight the dilemma of making a choice that every person must deal with on several occasions throughout their lives. The poet claims that one of the numerous hardships people face in life is having to choose between various opportunities. And like the narrator of “The Road Not Taken,” we frequently feel let down when we are unable to seize every opportunity that comes our way and bear the consequences. 

Lines 6-10

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,

Finally making a choice, the narrator in “The Road Not Taken” goes along a path he feels is better because it appeared that few people had travelled it before. However, he is quick to point out that the other road appeared to be just as frequented as the one he chose, proving that it was not as less used as he had initially believed.

Lines 11-15

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.

This stanza captures the narrator’s uneasiness as he tries to convince himself that his choice is the best one for him. Like any other person, he is trying to objectively evaluate the pros and cons of both decisions. He had the impression that the path he took “wanted” to be travelled by him. This demonstrates the inherent nature of individuals, which is to always choose the path that appeals to us and holds our interest, even though both roads have an equal likelihood of bringing us to our desired destination. No matter where we go or how enticing or fulfilling our decisions are, we will never stop considering the “what ifs” of the past.

Lines 16-20

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.

The speaker believes that he will recall the circumstances surrounding this decision at some point in the foreseeable future. He plans to tell a lie and say that he chose a less trodden path. Actually, the distances on both the paths were equal. Life is not about “the road not taken,” but rather about the paths one actually chose to follow.