The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost

| | Comments (4)

"And sorry I could not travel both" Line 2 and "Oh, I kept the first for another day!" Line 13

I only want to make a point that by stating line 13, Frost technically canceled out line 2. How could he be sorry when he will soon discover the other road another day? It almost makes the poem sound contradicting because of such a cancellation. Therefore, I don't even see line 2 as being all that necessary to the poem. It could practically be cut out. 


You've found a tension within the poem -- good.

Our job as interpreters of literature is to face the poem as it's written, rather than suggest ways to revise the poem so we like it better. So, if we approach the poem from the perspective that every line is important, we might take a look at the lines that immediately follow:

"Yet knowing how way leads on to way, / I doubted if I should ever come back."

Frost immediately undercuts his optimistic plan that he might come back and try the road not taken... this is consistent with the feeling we get from the first half of the poem that the choice is important.

What do you make of the fact that he predicts he will tell of this choice "with a sigh"?

Rosalind Blair said:

While reading this poem, I had not even realized the contradiction in these lines. Maybe Frost was trying to show how many people focus on the present only. They get upset when something isn’t accomplished, or a goal is not reached. People never stop to realize that there can be a bright future ahead. There are second chances; you just have to remember the possibility of a new day.

Jennifer Prex said:

That's an interesting observation. Is it possible, though, that he said he "kept the first for another day" (line 13) because he regretted the fact he could not choose both and in hopes that he may be able to return and choose that path another time? It is impossible to choose two things at once when said two things contradict one another. When he stated he "could not travel both" (2), he knew this and possibly also figured that he most likely would never return to that point again. If he ever did return, then he could choose differently--an unlikely occurrence.

Sindhu said:

Well, I personally don't see any contradiction. According to me, when Frost says, "And sorry I could not travel both" I think it meant that he was sorry he could not travel both at the same time! Because, if we see the line that follows this, "And be one traveller, long I stood"... So, I guess it is clear that he regretted not being able to travel both at the same time.

Later on in the poem, when he says "Oh, I kept the first for another day" it only signifies that the traveller has finally made his choice.
Personally, having admired and been inspired by this poem for a very long time, this line is my favourite.

"Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back"

Leave a comment

Type the characters you see in the picture above.