"The Road Not Taken" is a modern psychological poem. The choice between two roads is a metaphor for an important decision that we have made in our lives.
TWO roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both. ……….(He would have liked to travel on both roads.)
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth; 5
Then took the other, as just as fair, (He admits the other road was just as attractive.)
And having perhaps the better claim, (He prefers to take the less traveled road.)
Because it was grassy and wanted wear; (Grassy roads are less traveled.)
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn the them really about the same, 10 (The traveler admits that the roads are really worn about the same and that just the fact of his passing there would mean that they would be worn equally.)
And both that morning equally lay (That morning no one had passed on either road.)
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back. 15
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. (When he is older he will claim that he took the road less traveled by and that it was an important factor in his life.)
We don’t know where the other road might have taken him, maybe to the exact same destination. He based his decision on his personal preference for the less traveled road. Although this is not as clear a choice as the one, for example, between the “wide road that leads to moral destruction which many choose” and “the narrow path that leads to salvation which is chosen by only a few”, the traveler, nonetheless, acts upon an instinct advising him to take the least popular alternative.
The poem is often interpreted as praise for rugged American individualism, but the psychological element of the poem (the fact that there was really no reason to prefer one road over the other) leads us to the conclusion that our decisions are oftentimes arbitrary--guided more by emotions than logic. When we tell the story of our important decision we often ignore the facts in order to create a more romantic reality…one that is truer on a psychological level.