The Road Not Taken depicts the dilemma that a person has to face involving the choices and decisions one has to make in one’s life. It is a poem that has been much admired, as well as much misunderstood and criticized.
It is a great lyric that records a personal experience of the poet, but from the personal and the individual the poet soon rises to the universal and the general. The poet’s experience becomes symbolic of human experience in all ages and countries.
It tells about a man who comes to a fork, in the road he is traveling upon. The poet uses the fork in the road as a metaphor for the choices a person makes in life. The two roads in fact represent two alternative ways of life.
The man stands there contemplating, and feels sad that he is unable to travel on both roads as both of them seem to be rewarding. He chooses the less traveled, grassy road because it needs wear and leaves the other road for some other day. Though he is not sure if ever again he would pass by it because one road leads to another and leaves no chance to change one’s decision, so he won’t get a chance to go back.
The man then says that he will be telling with a ‘sigh‘ someday in the future, still thinking what life would have been if he had chosen the more traveled road. Though his decision to take the less-traveled road has made all the difference.
Generally, people are confused when they have to make a choice because it has far-reaching consequences. Hence, they often follow the less risky and more acceptable decisions. Very few dare to take up challenges and choose a less traveled road. To think off the beaten track always pays and makes the difference. The two roads depict the confusion, in spite of making a choice one is never content and feels may be the other choice was better.
The speaker doesn’t seem happy because he regrets having taken up the second road. His statement ‘this has made all the difference’ is a sort of confession of repentant, hesitation, and sighing. Perhaps the poet refers to his choice of profession as a poet and his sailing to England (in 1912) leaving behind the safe but beaten tracks of his motherland where he could have led a happy and contented life of a farmer.