The Road Not Taken – By Robert Frost
Performed by David Milton Jones
Full text of the poem
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
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.
About the poem
‘The road not taken’ was written by Robert Frost and published in 1916. It became popular because of its simplicity, yet it suggests a powerful message which has been the subject of much debate. The poet describes himself walking in a wood, the road splitting and he has to choose one or the other path.
The poem, as a metaphor for the decisions that we all have to take through life, can be interpreted in different ways. On one hand we can interpret the poem as suggesting that decisions we make in life are challenges to be taken seriously since they determine the consequences. A different interpretation of the poem, as taken by David Milton Jones in the video, suggests that decisions are often made just by whim. Yet, regardless of the way we make our decisions, we often look back with the never-resolved question what would it have been like if we took the other way. On one hand, we can regret our choices, but a different interpretation is that it doesn’t matter since any one choice is as good as another – it’s just a different path in life.
About the author
Robert Lee Frost (1874 – 1963), was an American poet who was born in San Francisco, California. His work typically describes rural life in New England during the early twentieth century. He received, among other awards, four Pulitzer prizes for poetry.
His first book of poetry, A Boy’s Will, was published while living in England. During this period he was associated with a group of poets known as the Dymock poets and it has been suggested that his acquaintance with Edward Thomas (a member of the group) was the inspiration for ‘The Road Not Taken’.
In 1915, during World War I, Frost returned to America, where he continued writing as well as teaching and lecturing. In 1924, he won his first Pulitzer Prize for the book New Hampshire: A Poem with Notes and Grace Notes. He later received Pulitzers for Collected Poems in 1931, A Further Range in 1937, and A Witness Tree in 1943. He has been praised for his genuineness and his ability to describe experiences that are shared by most people.
About the location
The video above was recorded in Eshtaol forest, located in the foothills half way between Tel-Aviv and Jerusalem. Historically the area was the property of the biblical tribe of Dan and is rich with ancient wine cellars, olive presses and remains from the byzantine period. The forest is laced with many small roads and trails, including the “Burma Road” that is reminiscent of, but not to be confused with, the one that linked Burma with the southwest of China. The road found in the Eshtaol forest served as a channel of supply for the seized city of Jerusalem during Israel’s War of Independence.
The forest is rich with a variety of fruit trees such as olives, almonds, carobs and grape vines. It also has pine, eucalyptus and various other trees. The forest is popular with hikers following the north-south ‘Israel-trail’, and for bicycle riders across the west-east ‘bicycle trail’.