On The Road Not Taken, by Robert FrostRefresh your memory if you haven't read it in awhile. It's good for you. Skip down to the end if you're lazy.
21. What do you think the poem means? What is the poet telling the reader about?
|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;||5|
|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,||10|
|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.||15|
|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.|
And the student's response:
I'll admit there was a WTF moment upon reading the answer, but then I looked at a couple lines of the poem, figured, yeah, why not, and gave him full marks.
He is a traveler, I think. Maybe it's about love, so he needs to choose which would be the better one. He decided to break up with two girls at the same moment.
- Yellow, in Chinese, can mean pornographic, as in "Two roads diverged in a yellow wood."
- The line "...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" certainly could be interpreted as being "Yellow" as they say around here.
- But the next phrase about the fair one "...having perhaps the better claim/ Because it was grassy and wanted wear" hits it out of the park.
I shall indeed be "telling this with a sigh/somewhere ages and ages hence" whenever I teach this poem as a morality tale about running around with loose women. God bless that kid. Drove me crazy all year long and then provided me with the biggest gut laugh I've had in quite some time this morning.