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.
The Road Not Taken (Robert Frost, Mountain Interval, 1916).
Almost all critics thought the sigh to indicate regret: “is not a sigh of regret over a right choice; it is a sigh of regret that both choices were not possible” (Laurence Perrine, Explicator, XIX, Feb., 1961, Item 28.); according to Eleanor Sickels the poem is about "the human tendency to wobble illogically in decision and later to assume that the decision was, after all, logical and enormously important, but forever to tell of it 'with a sigh' as depriving the speaker of who-knows-what interesting” (Explicator, Item 28); the speaker of the poem is "one who habitually wastes energy in regretting any choice made: belatedly but wistfully he sighs over the attractive alternative rejected." (Lawrance Thompson, Robert Frost. Minneapolis, 1959). Then Frost answers to a young girl (Finger 1978)…
"SOMETIME IN APRIL of I925, while teaching at Amherst College, Robert Frost answered a letter he had received from Crystine Yates, a young girl in Dickson, Tennessee. According to her, she wrote Frost to inquire about the "sigh" in the last stanza of "The Road Not Taken." Assuming the speaker of the poem to be Frost himself, she wanted to know whether the sigh meant that he regretted having chosen to be a poet. The following letter Frost wrote in response to Ms. Yates's…
Dear Miss Yates:
No wonder you were a little puzzled over the end of my Road Not Taken. It was my rather private jest at the expense of those who might think I would yet live to be sorry for the way I had taken in life. I suppose I was gently teasing them. I'm not really a very regretful person, but for your solicitousness on my behalf I'm
your friend always
Finger, Larry L. (1978) Frost's "The Road Not Taken": A 1925 Letter Come to Light, in “American Literature”, Vol. 50, No. 3: 478-479.