I need to know what this poem means please! Thank you in advance!!!
It was a spoonerism by Frost. The road not taken was really
the toad not raken, and recalled the choice he had to make
about whether to kill a frog, while raking the leaves on
his front yard, a lawn so littered that he called it a
He chose to let it live, and that made all the difference.
certainly a divergent view, Hugh, read with a sigh..........
Is this the same toad that was under the harrow?
I think that Frost, being a typical male, refused to ask directions, and then had to justify his decision.
Is that typically male? Oops, sorry guys, I seem to have turned into a male.
Simmie: try 'search' on top of your page, select all dates and type the title. I remember we had a discussion about the poem earlier.
One interpretation is that the roads we choose are the bigger than just the paths from one place to another, they are the decisions of life. And Frost is talking about decisions that don\'t really seem different, the decisions of which the outcome cannot be seen for a long time and once the outcome is apparent it is too late to go back and change your mind. The trick he plays in the last lines is that he doesn\'t tell you he is talking about human conceit. The paths were the same, there wasn\'t anything that was really different about either, but because it is human nature to want to believe we have made the right decision we automatically assume we are doing it our own way, perhaps the better way, the less travelled way.
That is what I\'ve always picked up from the poem at least. Hope it helps.
I agree with dave. lovely poem.
Frost is talking about human's hesitation when they come across the junction and have to choose. Man often wonders if the road not taken is better than the road we took, and in this case, Frost tries to tell that the road he (in the story) choose is the best. I myself had felt like this before and now I think that the road I had taken is probably the best for me.
Touche! Yes, I was being sexist. My apologies to all.
'the road not taken' seems a good poem for my exams coming up! ) My topic is THE INDIVIDUAL AND SOCIETY and it is really very interesting! Any other comments on the poem with regard to the topic?
All texts have Herorines (hmmm co-incidence?) where they are faced with challenges and in turn challenge the dominant way of thinking and prove themselves a true individual of their society!
Any help on absolutely anything would be muchly appreciated! Throw me any other relative texts or further insights on the matter... Thanks.
> Touche! Yes, I was being sexist. My apologies to all.
But one can expect that from a female.
uh oh... I hope, Amadeo, that your tongue was in your cheek. I can hardly wait for Pam's reply. This is better than T V!
A few thoughts to help your thinking:-
Isn't there a time in all our lives when we sit back and think 'What if..?.... a lot of things in life are punctuated by the 'should have been(s)' and 'if only it was(s)'...
Frost is sure that the road he took made a difference...A lot different than saying, if only I had taken the other one.. the note here is definitely positive...more like the pleasant reflection on a life lived well than the whining regret of lost opportunities...
Frost has chosen the less travelled path, the path that denotes the least amount of security... (becos in colelctive decisions lie safety..choosing to break away from the accepted will bring with it the perils that are inevitably faced by pioneers..) So, tarvelling the less trodden path means facing up to unknown challenges and relying on yourself, not on the accepted wisdom of the travellers before you...
The road less travelled is also the road of adventures and discoveries...It's also the quite resistance of the instinctive loner to the collective will of the community which often weighs him/her down...
As you can see, this poem can keep me going for hours ...Apparently, lot of meaning can be read into it..depending on where you stand...
But, maybe Hugh's toad is a lot simpler...
>I can hardly wait for Pam's reply.
Actually, I think I'll just have the vapours instead!
This is hilarious! Keep going!
The second last line reads I took the one less traveled by but if it had read I took the one more traveled by then that would also have made all the difference. I guess we can say, though, that it would have made a different difference!
I don't think Frost is trying to indicate that one road is any way better or preferable. Whether the less traveled road has greater prospect for adventure, or whatever, I don't think is his point.
Consider the situation if the two roads had been absolutely indistinguishable. Our traveler will still choose one road but have no meaningful reason for that choice. In the case of the roads of Frost's poem I believe our traveler chooses his road in the same fashion. He has no meaningful reason, and needs none, for his choice. When he says I took the one less traveled by he is merely describing the one he happened to take.
Thanks, Soma! This is something I have noticed but never (yet) had a chance to discuss. Most readingsfocus on the fact that "I took the one LESS TRAVELED BY." But the middle of the poem makes it clear that it was NOT a choice between the popular road and the unknown road. Look:
...the other [road was] 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.
In these lines, Frost makes the point that the roads were NOT THAT different--not like choosing between being a nun or being a prostitute. PLUS, he seems to be choosing the road that WANTS to be walked on. (Yes, "wanted" can mean "lacked", but Frost is American to the core.) You can imagine him thinking, "This road is feeling lonely today."
So I agree with Soma that he's NOT saying that ONE decision can your course for life. Rather, he's saying that he has made a habit -- when the choices are roughly equal -- of choosing whichever option was less "travelled by," and the CUMULATIVE effect of all these small choices is a different quality of life overall.
It's not that ONE decision can alter your course for life, but that every decision does so-- we just don't usually notice.
I don't quite agree with you. He is not talking about many choices, he is clearly talking about one choice that made all the difference. And one he is very much aware of, otherwise he couldn't be
"telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:"
AND he says: "long I stood", so he didn't just take one, he really took his time to look forward and choose one.
The choices look alike, because you can't tell in advance where it will lead you. (the view is hidden by undergrowth)
And he concludes:
"I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference."
Rather, he's saying that he has made a habit -- when
the choices are roughly equal -- of choosing whichever option was less "travelled by,"
He says absolutely nothing about habits or more occurences. So, I'm sorry, but I don't find your argument really persuasive.
I don't think Frost is trying to indicate that one road is any way better or preferable. Whether the less traveled road has greater
prospect for adventure, or whatever, I don't think is his point.
Consider the situation if the two roads had been absolutely indistinguishable. Our traveler will still choose one road but have no
meaningful reason for that choice. In the case of the roads of Frost's poem I believe our traveler chooses his road in the same fashion.
He has no meaningful reason, and needs none, for his choice. When he says I took the one less traveled by he is merely describing the one
he happened to take.
I DO agree with this, exept that the reason he has no meaningful reason is that you can't see in advance where the road will lead you, and that is a very important point in my opinion.
And that's the fun of poetry analysis-- that there is rarely, if ever ONE correct interpretation.
Yes, that indeed is the fun...
I still tend to stick with my earlier thoughts on it..(refer my earlier posting)
The fact that Frost decided to call it 'the road less travelled' rather than the 'road on my left' or 'the road that turned right' means that the qualification of the road is that it was less travelled... Thus, there is some significance and some special attributes that the qualification imparts to the road...
Its great to get differing viewpoints on this...we are all learning to look at it in a different angle
My early impression of this poem is that Frost is relating the career path he chose. While others in his lot pursued more risk-free and popular paths, he took the one that most suited him --- the one that seemingly beckoned him as, "grassy and wanted wear."
For me, it reinforces the idea of using your heart & mind to choose life's challenges, knowing that in the end, you'll reap the greatest satisfaction by giving the nod to your heart and your dreams.
May the fun continue ............ Just as the two roads diverge, so Anna's interpretation diverges from Soma's.
Surely, what must be agreed upon, though, is that in using the 'road' analogy (or more specifically the distinguishable difference in traveler usage) for our arguments, it must stand up when applied to actual road junctions otherwise it is meaningless. Let the following scenario serve that purpose: To remove any problem for ascertaining usage, let both roads have turnstiles with observable counters. Frost says there is an exceedingly minute difference: Ok. Assume 99 travelers have passed this point; 50 have chosen R1 and 49 have chosen R2.
Although we have no way of knowing in advance which road has adventure, excitement and all the other goodies Anna talks about, let that road be R2.
Let the next travelers be:
100th = Robert Frost
101st = Soma
102nd = Anna
103rd = Mark
Robert Frost walks down R2 (as he relates in the poem). Soma arrives and is faced with the situation he mentioned in his previous post, namely, that the two roads are indistinguishable. Without giving it a moment's thought he strolls along R2. Anna arrives, checks the counters, and following her 'less-traveled' philosophy heads off along R1. Anna's choice of R1 is not really her own. Soma does this or that and Anna, rather pathetically, does the opposite, being under the whim of Soma. Even swapping places in the queue with either Soma or Mark would leave Anna with a random choice - hardly what she would wish.
Mark, Anna's disciple, comes along to find both counters on 51. What is he to do? Would Anna approve of him using Soma's "couldn't-care-less" approach? No! he must do something methodical. Mark tosses a coin - R1 if heads - R2 if tails. Heads it is and Mark follows Anna along R1 - the road to mediocrity.
Anna might argue that an equal number of travelers on each road is unlikely. I agree! but if Anna is able to sway more and more to her philosophical standpoint then equality is inevitable and the scenario described becomes reality. Its application leads it to its own failure. If a system is to have validity it must handle all contingencies.
When Frost says, Yet knowing how way leads to way means that the chosen road also diverges again and again. If Anna repeatedly chooses the less-traveled branch she will very quickly reach journey's end in a cul-de-sac. Try it, and find it is so! Though Mark endeavors to follow Anna's example his occasional random choice of road will take him further but still to an inevitable dead-end.
Though the above is theoretical, many, many years ago I carried out a practical experiment. Whilst cycling my own "Tour de France" I came to a "Y" junction. I cycled along its right branch. A short way along that road was another "Y" junction. I chose the left branch. At each succeeding "Y" I chose the opposite to that which I had previously chosen. Sometimes it was the 'less-traveled' and sometimes the 'more-traveled' but with no loss of adventure or interest in spite of that. Inevitably my journey would reach a dead-end but only after far more twists and turns than either Anna's or Mark's could achieve. Eventually I ran out of road in a fat French farmer's duck pond in a tiny village called Mousy. A few too many glasses of vin rouge later I mounted my bycycle and wobbled an unsteady course back to the original "Y" junction thus solving the Frostian difficulty I doubted if I should ever come back. How did I get back? I simply continued with the right and left course changes on my return journey. So ended an exciting adventure with its mixture of 'less-traveled' and 'more-traveled' course changes - a lesson to live by.
Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 08/27/2006 06:04PM by lg.
Very interesting way of analyzing a poem! Thank you!
unfortunately, neither road looked different so your analogy of turnstiles is not applicable. you are using something that makes the roads different from eachother and the fact remains that they both looked the same.
Lovely-- which is why I stick with my theory (not necessarily Frost's) that ALL roads 'make all the difference.'
In case anyone is still reading this thread -- I just happened upon a site with this comment on THE ROAD LESS TRAVELED:
"This poem is usually interpreted as an assertion of individualism, but critic Lawrence Thompson has argued that it is a slightly mocking satire on a perennially hesitant walking partner of Frost's who always wondered what would have happened if he had chosen their path differently."
(As they say in AA, take what you like and leave the rest."
But back to Desi's critique of my argument (and to the reliable pleasure of arguing with Desi):
If there had been ONE CITICAL fork in the road of Frost's life, then he could not have saved the first [road] for another day.
You cannot, for example, say to yourself, "I'll just go to med school for a few years and then see if I want to be a Benedictine monk."
You CAN, in fact, GO to med school for a few years and then become a Benedictine monk. But I don't think that at the moment of choosing you would anyone would consider it to be (1) a choice between two almost-equally taken roads, or (2) a choice for today, with the other choice available for "another day."
Okay, Desi -- hit me with your best shot!
I don't say there has been only ONE CRITICAL fork in his life, it is only ONE CRITICAL fork he is discussing in this poem. That is a big difference. Eh, at least to me, I hope it is to you too; otherwise will end up discussing till eternity ;-)
Say that one road is continuing school, and the other is quitting, for example because you got offered THE job you want. You know that this is an important decision:
(I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence)
but you can't tell in advance what the better one is. They both offer a good prospect for your future, so they look alike. Then you will just have to go for feeling: I took the one less traveled by: it was MY individual choice, not what society expected me to do.
"Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back."
You can always say: I take that job now, and I will finish college in a couple of years, but you still know it's highly unlikely you'll ever do so, because life will go on.
Have I completely persuaded you to my view yet?
This isn't my best shot by the way, am a bit sleepy. And just made very important decision myself, I will email you about it tomorrow.
I'm still convinced that Frost makes his road the one less travelled by virtue of his having travelled it. The life we lead is our own life, the path we follow is our own path, and that my friends is the difference Frost speaks of. The sigh he has when telling of his life is one of contentment because he is happy with the life he has chosen. In his poetry, Frost shows pride in his sort of stubborn failing farmer lifestyle, he gets by and while most folks don't want that lifestyle he is completely satisfied. Other good poems to relate could be 'The Star-splitter,' 'The Thatch' and 'Not Quite Social.' On the reverse he has the poem 'How Hard It Is To Keep From Being King When It's In You And The Situation.' Frost had a great sense of humor about his life and I think it takes quite a bit of inspection to try to understand what he is saying in 'The Road not Taken.'
Here's a totally different idea, for the hell of it.
What if there are TWO DIFFERENT choices:
FIRST, the choice that "I" made on that
day in the yellow wood, between two roads
that were, admittedly, "about the same".
SECOND, the choice that "I shall be
telling... with a sigh" in the future,
which will seem IN RETROSPECT, to have
made "all the difference."
Who knew (saith Frost) that such a small decision would have such a great impact? "I" made the decision on impulse, and just look at the eventual results?
If Lawrence Thompson is right that Frost was poking fun at a friend who had trouble making choices, then he is also poking fun at "I", for imagining that his eventual fate once hung from such a tiny thread. (Cp. me, teasing my sister when she's taking forever to choose earrings, telling her: "You know the fate of the civilized world depends on this, so take your time.")
If Lawrence Thompson is wrong, then this IS a warning that small decisions may matter down the "road." But regardless -- Desi, this is for you -- I still feel that he's talking about SMALL DECISIONS, not career choices, marriage choices, etc.
Given poems like DESIGN and FIRE AND ICE, I'm inclined (after a good night's sleep) to give more credence to Lawrence Thompson. I don't see anywhere else that Frost says we must be careful about the small decisions we make. He seems more fatalistic about things.
Having refered to Frost's poem "Design," it's only polite for me to post it here (esp. since it's not in the eMule archive).
Here is it. Bear in mind that the Heal-All is a poisonous plant.
(by Robert Frost)
I found a dimpled spider, fat and white,
On a white heal-all, holding up a moth
Like a white piece of rigid satin cloth--
Assorted characters of death and blight
Mixed ready to begin the morning right,
Like the ingredients of a witches' broth--
A snow-drop spider, a flower like a froth,
And dead wings carried like a paper kite.
What had that flower to do with being white,
The wayside blue and innocent heal-all?
What brought the kindred spider to that height,
Then steered the white moth thither in the night?
What but design of darkness to appall?--
If design govern in a thing so small.
And I guess the choice between fire and ice will also have 'proved to make all the differecne.'
Two roads diverged in a yellow road
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 vanished in the undergrowth.
Then looked down the other.
Then looked down the first one again.
Then went home and got back in bed.
Oh, I saved them both for another day,
but knowing me...
That could really really be about me! Very funny, and very realistic. Do I have your permission to print it and post it on my door?
now with me, I would stand unable to decide, and be run over!
I just came across this messsage. Marian please help me, what web site was this that you found this information?
Bump, for Les to see some Soma wisdom.
Gadamer says, when talking about interpretation, "God is in the details."
I'm sorry, but if you take Frost's persona of a rustic, homey, vegetable grower at face value, then I have a couple of wayside hobos I can sell you cheap. Frost was a sophisticated, ambitious and accomplished craftsman who built poems out of sounds and words and a vision of New England which provided him with profit and power in his own life. There's nothing folksy about this guy. In spite of all this, I have been a fan of his ability with words since 1962. Doesn't mean I have to like the cranky son-of-a beech tree.
Sincerely, Peter (from Boston, Keene, and Plymouth, N.H.-- where Frost taught at the end of his teaching career.) I guess it is the natives who most resent his co-opting our culture, as if he weren't born off Market Street in San Francisco, California.
I like it.
Chesil, thanks for the bump. But I think you may confuse wisdom for "smoke screen". One of my good profs. used to tell me beware he who bull shits too much for he may be trying to hide a lack of information.
Les, you need to read some more. Soma was insightful, intelligent and articulate.
I always looked forward to reading Soma's posts and never considered any of them to be "smoke screens". Although there has been an abdundance of BS remarks over the years that I have been enjoying Emule (mine included), Soma was the least of the BSers. I miss him.
Well said, Glenda.
"But oh Lord we pay the price with a
Spin of a wheel - with a roll of a dice
Ah yeah you pay your fare
And if you don't know where you're going
Any road will take you there"
Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?' <br />
That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,' said the Cat.
I don't much care where--' said Alice. <br />
Then it doesn't matter which way you go,' said the Cat.
--so long as I get somewhere,' Alice added as an explanation. <br />
Oh, you're sure to do that,' said the Cat, `if you only walk long enough.'
There's generic BS and there's classic BS.
My wife is surprised we don't all have hairy palms
What happened to Soma? I liked him too.
I remember looking up the etymology of 'soma', finding moon gods, plants, sleeping and the like. There was also this poem that included the term:
Soma's last post here was in June of 2002, but he never did respond as to his actualy intent, as far as I recall. Could be his/her real name, sure.
Here's a link to all of Soma's posts. I'll check them out when I get some time.
He got Soma from Brave New World, Hugh.
Hey, don't worry about it, Pam, I enjoy my Daily Pam dose.
You have a wife, Johnny. What a woman she must be
She most certainly is........somehow I knew it was right when we met at age 16 and she knew who Forry Ackerman was.
Here's Soma's explanation, and the thread which produced it. Huxley had some interesting ideas.
Post Edited (08-27-04 13:40)
she knew who Forry Ackerman was.
What- doesn't everyone?
Now they do:
Indeed well said, Glenda! I miss Soma too. His comments were insightful and intelligent and often very funny. I'd never read James Elroy Flecker before he posted info about The Golden Journey to Samarkand, which has one of those lines I quote allatime now--"Our camels sniff the evening and are glad." His comments about Browning's My Last Duchess were fascinating.
Chesil, what do you make of this?
Most excellent link Les.......thanks !
Here's a poem from the links there:
He was one of Bradbury's kind of people
Who early took to wings;
Jumped first from the barnroof at home,
Then the church steeple,
And when his bones were finally out of slings,
Took off from Baldy's snowy dome,
Landing this time in a tree.
And still denied the pull of gravity.
Instead he dug the pull of endless time and space:
Gazed nightly at the stars,
Read Verne and Wells,
Became an active flying ace who dreamed of
Setting foot on - where else? - Mars,
Or was it Old Barsoom?
He watched the astronauts return
Two times from walking on the Moon,
And swore he'd break the bonds
That held him......soon.
Then one day they came.
Out in the bog, behind the Carter Place,
Took him and his dog
For one swift, silent spin
In outer space,
To Mars itself and back again.
I only know they disappeared one day,
And were gone a long, long, time away.
Since they came back,
They mostly sit and look
At the green trees, the garden, and the brook.
Nice....havent had time to explore fully, was planning on the weekend...thanks for an early insight
like the "Carter" reference ......hee hee......if we ever explore Mars, I am going to petition that one of the aresnauts be named Carter.
Brave Old World is a kick-ass Klezmer band
The Klezmatics too !
heres a link, lancelot