Robert Frost’s “The Road Not Taken,” was inspired by his friendship with a soldier who was fighting in France during World War I. Frost explained how he was thinking of his friend, Edward Thomas, and the hard choices facing that friend that could lead to life or death. According to Frost (at the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference in 1953), “One stanza of “The Road Not Taken” was written while I was sitting on a sofa in the middle of England. [It] was as found three or four years later, and I couldn’t bear not to finish it. I wasn’t thinking about myself there, but about a friend who had gone off to war, a person who, whichever road he went, would be sorry he didn’t go the other. He was hard on himself that way. And so I . . . sent it to him in France, getting the reply, ‘What are you trying to do with me?'”
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 kept 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.