The Road Not Taken… Robert Frost

Choices - in travel and life.

Choices - in travel and life.

I remember watching Hamlet for the first time and realizing that it was the source of many common phrases. Not that we use the Bard’s words verbatim. No. But we have turned his turns of phrase into our own. Consider:

  • “Though this be madness, yet there is method in ‘t.”
  • “The lady doth protest too much, methinks”.
  • “In my mind’s eye”.

And the quote most apt for solo travelers: “This above all: to thine own self be true.”

Another line in Hamlet says that “Brevity is the soul of wit”. So get to the point, Janice.

My point is that we often use great phrases but have no knowledge of their origin. This was the case for me with “the road less traveled”. And, as with Shakespeare, it is not true to the words of its source. It comes from “The Road Not Taken” by Robert Frost – today’s Travel/Life poem.

Whether the road less traveled is the better path or not isn’t what interests me here. What counts for me in this poem is that one does choose a path. When I travel, I make choices large and small. From my destination country to taking a left rather than a right at an intersection, I make choices. And I can never return, as the same person, to explore the alternative.

In travel, in life, is the road less traveled more courageous? Is it better? Maybe. Maybe not. But whatever course you take it will make all the difference.


The Road Not Taken

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.

You can find all the travel poetry I’ve posted by clicking on the “A Solo Point of View category. They are there amongst other musings.

  • Patricia Coon

    I asked my mom to paint this poem, as I’ve always taken the road less
    traveled. It was a beautiful watercolor with birches and a narrow path,
    and a wide field with New England barn and house on the “main road’, with
    a small wooden sign at the intersection of the back road. Trouble is,
    maybe from a feng shui point of view, that painting caused a split in my
    household – it felt “cursed” – one took the road more traveled, and I
    felt like I was pulled into taking the less traveled one again. I’d come
    home, see that painting for a couple of days and off I’d go again. In feng
    shui, having two of something – like a painting of two flowers in a vase –
    means having more harmony, wanting two to come together. The split in the
    roads – not good.

  • Summi S

    Very beautiful poem. I have read these (below) lines many times in many articles but every time they make me smile and encourage to do it myself! 
    >>>I took the one less traveled by,
    >>>And that has made all the difference.

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  • Krisabele N. Ricamonte

    The first time I read this was in High School, and I still read this at times when I need reminding that it’s ok to be different.

  • Adventures

    Such a beautiful poem, evocative of the many choices we make in life. Thanks

  • Cristina

    I’m a true believer that how much we learn and grow in life is about the choices we make. I like having options that take me through winding roads, and paths different from what I’m used to. Even if I may not make the better choice, I feel rewarded knowing I will find my way anyway

  • AnitaMac

    Frost is my favourite poet.  I often am sorry to not be able to travel both, but love that the choices I have made along the way have made me who I am today.  Somedays it is the road less travelled, somedays not – but the choice always makes a difference!

  • Green Global Travel

    The last two lines of the Frost poem, “I took the road less traveled by, And that has made all the difference” really are extraordinary. Beautiful words, and beautiful post.

  • Janice Waugh

    Isn’t that amazing! I love such coincidences. Thanks for letting me know.

  • Barbsnyder0102

    My favorite poem of all time Janice. I heard my father recite it to me as a young child. Funny I should sign on and see this post, as I was just having dinner with my daughter and we were discussing my new home based travel consultant position and trying to come up with a name for my facebook page promoting travel. She recited this poem from memory, as we tossed around ideas. Two Roads Travel was one thought– maybe your post is speaking directly to me… 😉