"Business and Marketing Strategist" Susan Baroncini-Moe does a MARVELOUS analysis of Robert Frost's poem "The Road Not Taken". You know that one. Commercials and people co-opt it as an anthem for mavericks.
The key lines at the end, delivered sanctimoniously: "Two roads diverged in a wood, and I / I took the one less traveled by, / And that has made all the difference." Dramatic pause.
When delivered this way, it conveys: "See that road more trampled down, the one the boring HERD keeps taking? Fuck that! Imma gonna take this OTHER one. Aren't I brave? That's how I roll! Hey, you! Less-trammeled grass! Prepare to get trammeled!"
"Guinness World Record Holder" Susan Baroncini-Moe is, like: "Hold on, jack! You're annoying! And you're wrong!"
Now, I haven't looked at her website past the page on this poem. I don't want to. I scoffed like a punk snob at her photo and the starry field in the background. ("An motivational speaker analyzing a poem with subtlety? Absurd! Har har!") But once I read her article, she is my sister. I would follow her anywhere (on this matter). I believe in her and don't want the spell broken by peering behind the curtain!
Read her analysis. It is concise and amusing. In short, she points out that BOTH paths in the poem are equally worn. The reflection at the end by the narrator, which is the part used over and over in commercials, is an example of selective memory:
The message is far more like, “I took a road. It could’ve been another road. But this is the one I took. One day, I’ll say that it was this choice, in this moment, to take this particular road that made my life better, but in fact, both roads weren’t very different from one another, so my life might’ve been different if I’d taken the other road, but probably would’ve yielded other cool stuff.”
Her page also links to the image to the right (full-sized version at the cartoonist's website), a good illustration of how equivalent both paths in the poem are.
I don't have any sage analysis to offer. Only an apology to Ms. Baroncini-Moe: Sorry I scoffed. You made the world better and have salvaged an important poem. Thank you.
Poem text and video of Robert Frost reading it below:
The Road Not Taken
by Robert Frost
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.