While the written word can be a source of inspiration and motivation, it can also be misconstrued and confused. I’m pondering this this morning, not in relation to anything I’ve written (though God knows people have misinterpreted me before!), but in contemplation of a poem I once took for granted. You see, I always understood the following to be an affirmation that choosing the different path could be a good thing:
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.
Familiar, right? It’s the ending of the classic Robert Frost poem that we’ve probably all been required to read. A poem that has made its way into the minds of many, in exactly the way I described above.
My problem is… there is a case made that Frost intends these final verses to be ironic. (Here’s an online example of the case, made at answers.com.) As if to say that when an old man, I’ll look back at my life and some particular moment in it and think that a decision, which wasn’t really all that weighty, was of particular significance… when, in reality, I simply followed others into a “new” path that was, by then, just about as worn as the other!
It’s an odd thought, isn’t it? I share it today hoping others might comment. (Kind of like discussion in honors English… man, some days I miss being in school!)
What do you think Frost intended with the poem? (You can find the whole thing easily, I’m sure.)
Or, a related question, does our interpretation supersede the author’s intent?