For decades, literary critics have pointed to a contradiction at the heart of "Road" that, once you see it, sticks out like a sore thumb: The two roads in the yellow wood aren't so different after all.
At the poem's start, the narrator hits the fork in the road, examines both paths and laments he cannot "travel both / And be one traveler."
He decides to take the one with "perhaps the better claim / Because it was grassy and wanted wear." This observation, however, is immediately taken back: "Though as for that, the passing there / Had worn them really about the same."
The next line too stresses the similarity of the two paths: "And both that morning equally lay / In leaves no step had trodden black."
Only in the fourth and final stanza does the narrator, imagining a time in the future, transform the path he chooses into "the one less traveled":
Sunday, March 8, 2009
The Road Not Taken
Brian Schott writes that one of Robert Frost's most famous poems has been widely misunderstood: