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The Road Not Taken (poem)
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"The Road Not Taken" is a poem by Robert Frost, published in 1916 in the collection Mountain Interval. It is the first poem in the volume and is printed in italics. The title is often mistakenly given as "The Road Less Traveled",from the penultimate line: "I took the one less traveled by".
"The Road Not Taken" is a narrative poem consisting of four stanzas of iambic tetrameter (though it is hypermetric by one beat - there are nine syllables per line, instead of the strict eight required for tetrameter) and is one of Frost's most popular works. This, being among the best known, is also one of the most often misunderstood poems. It has been commonly studied in high school literature classes and can often relate to the reader's life as in making difficult decisions. The lines
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
are often cited as emblematic of America's individualist spirit of adventure, in a reading that assumes they are to be taken literally. This is doubtful: whatever difference the choice might have made, it was not made on the basis of a discerned difference between the two paths that opened up before the traveller. The speaker admits in the second and third stanzas that both paths may be equally worn and equally leaf-covered, and it is only in his future recollection that he will call one of the two roads, the one he took, "less traveled by."
The sigh can be interpreted as one of regret or of self-satisfaction; in either case, the irony lies in the distance between what the speaker has just told us about the roads' similarity and what his or her later claims...