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As soon as he makes this claim, however, he doubles back, erasing the distinction even as he makes it: “Though as for that the passing there / Had worn them really about the same.” Frost then reiterates that the two roads are comparable, observing—this time—that the roads are equally The poem masquerades as a meditation about choice, but the critic William Pritchard suggests that the speaker is admitting that “choosing one rather than the other was a matter of impulse, impossible to speak about any more clearly than to say that the road taken had ‘perhaps the better claim.’” In many ways, the poem becomes about how—through retroactive narrative—the poet turns something as irrational as an “impulse” into a triumphant, intentional decision.Decisions are nobler than whims, and this reframing is comforting, too, for the way it suggests that a life unfolds through conscious design.
Having made his choice, the speaker declares, “Oh, I kept the first for another day!
An inveterate New England farmer and woodsman, Robert Frost would have known these woods were “new”—full of trees that had grown after older ones had been decimated.
One forest has replaced another, just as—in the poem—one choice will supplant another.
The yellow leaves also evoke a sense of transience; one season will soon give way to another.
The speaker briefly imagines staving off choice, wishing he could “travel both / And be one traveler.” (A fastidious editor might flag the repetition of here, but it underscores the fantasy of unity—traveling two paths at once without dividing or changing the self.) The syntax of the first stanza also mirrors this desire for simultaneity: three of the five lines begin with the word Later in the poem, the speaker calls the road he chose “less traveled,” and it does initially strike him as slightly grassier, slightly less trafficked.