In the poem The Road Not Taken, Robert Frost is not suggesting the reader, when confronted with a ‘fork in the road’, take the road less frequented. In fact, neither of the two roads mentioned in the poem are less frequented. In the third stanza of the poem, the author writes:
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
This clearly shows that both the road were covered by leaves that had not been stepped upon, and hence, it traveler would not be able to guess which one had been tread on the most. The traveler goes on to state that he would be keeping the first step, regardless of which path he chose. The choice being made here is not of the road less travelled on. Both the roads seem equally fair. The author sees the roads and selects the road which he likes more as it is grassy. In the second stanza, he goes on to reiterate that:
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same
In both these stanzas, the traveler specifically states that both the roads were equal for the wear and the choice he makes is simply based on the path that appears more beautiful to him, and not because he wanted to take a road less travelled by.
Through this poem, Frost conveys that, throughout one’s life, one is faced with choices. We take decisions based on what appeals to us most at the time. However, regardless of what path we choose, it is human nature to reminisce and wonder how life would have been if our choices had been different. The traveler in the poem is saddened at the very start that he cannot travel down both the paths, as is the case with most choices in life. When given multiple options, you can choose only one.
In the third stanza, the traveler acknowledges that, once he begins walking down his selected path, one way will lead to another and he will never return to the fork in the road or be able to walk down the road not taken. The parable here is of the continuity of life and the inability of man to retrace his steps and return to a point in the past. Once a decision or choice has been made, one has to deal with the consequences which mostly lead to more choices to be considered and decisions to be made.
The final stanza of the poem is full of irony and reality. The traveler knows that years later, when he will be speaking about the choice he made, he will be regretful of the road that he was not able to take. Although he will claim that he took the road less travelled by and that his decision made a world of a difference, in truth, he just took one of two similar roads and he has no way of knowing how his life would have been if he had taken the other. The ‘sigh’ mentioned in the first line of the final stanza depicts the regret that everyone has when they think of how life could have been if they had made different choices in the past. Hence, the poem, as the title says, is about the road not taken, rather than the road less taken, and the impact it has on our lives.
Frost, Robert. "The Road Not Taken." 2012. Bartleby. 5 October 2012