America’s Most Widely Misread Literary Sensation

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; 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, And both that morning equally lay In leaves no step had trodden black. Oh, I marked the first for another day! Yet knowing how way leads on to way I doubted if I should ever come back. 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.

20 Replies to “America’s Most Widely Misread Literary Sensation

  1. The roads being very similar and therefore the choice unimportant was my first impression while listening to it.

  2. Read the article. The idea that this poem's rise to fame was due to widespread misinterpretation is hilarious BUT it really hinges on how you interpret the final stanza.

    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.

    Without foreknowledge of the author's intent, it's near impossible to distinguish the tone of the stanza as either mocking irony or genuine advice.

  3. Third interpretation here. Could be, that choosing to take any road is a road less traveled. As his indecisive friend would have been apt to not choose at all and spend his life at the crossroads.

  4. The reader has a poor grasp of his subject matter; his reading is, to me, glib & superficial…This poem needs to either be read by a) Frost himself, because the writer's own voice inflections might give a hint as to the subtext or help illuminate Frost's point of writing it, OR b) and elderly man with a good command of words & access to his own emotions… 'elderly' because age gives perspective & experience… there is an underlying vein of melancholy for me in this poem. The traveler speaks with some small regret, either because, despite having taking the road which led to ( hopefully ) a satisfying life, he has that residual yearning, unabated by years, of wondering where he might have gone, or what he might have become instead of what he HAS become, even though it may be satisfying. ( Man's yearning for the unexplored places)…peace out…

  5. Isn’t this supposed to mean that sometimes life’s hard and you need to take a harder path in order to truly succeed?

  6. It's misread most frequently in the misinterpreted tone that is often credited – this is not a "positive" piece; the tone is one of regret – the inevitable "what if's" that haunt those who have had to make that difficult choice in life, one of the more obvious examples from within the text where the narrator shares his regret, and how genuinely distraught he truly is, as he states:
    "And sorry I could not travel both
    And be one traveler".

    If you want a positive "Hang in there" meme look to cat posters, not Robert Frost.

  7. Not being a veteran of "professional" poetry deconstruction, I find Jackie Lay's pronouncement that most of us are misinterpreting the poem to be complete poppycock. I can't think of one successful artist (read: songwriter, poet, painter, sculptor) who doesn't admit that the listener or viewer is free to interpret the work of art any way they see fit. Sure the artist has ideas in mind when writing or painting, but if I read it differently, so be it. Once published, the work is now part of the commons, the marketplace of ideas, and we're free to interpret as we wish. If an artist/writing doesn't want other people interpreting a work differently than the artist intended, then keep it in the basement or in a safe. To proclaim the poem (any poem) as having one meaning is incredibly shallow and superficial.

  8. I like Frost but this reading is not good, it's far too casual, this poem needs to be read with more weight, more earnest.

  9. "grass is greener on the other side" that's how choices are ,at times.Thats the dilemma (two roads) poet discusses and not the choosing of a" road less traveled by" for both were "equally lay" that morning.

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