Interpretations, Intentions, and Chances

“The Road Not Taken” and Taking a Chance

The new year brings resolutions, promises, commitments, and a wide variety of interpretations, intentions, and chances that can be ignored, compromised, and broken. If you are still with me after that long first sentence you may be wondering what a Robert Frost poem has to do with taking a chance? The answer may not be as obvious as you think (that is if you are familiar with the poem and its common interpretation).

Frost’s poem “The Road Not Taken” is pretty much a high school standard. I figure it is a pretty slim percentage of students who got through twelve years of public education and didn’t read Frost’s poem and/or saw it on some poster in an English teacher’s classroom (or multiple classrooms). Various views argue the poem is ‘about’ pursuing dreams, being an individual, and taking a chance on the road less traveled. But what was the author’s intention when writing the poem? According to Frost the poem is “tricky” and the two roads that are so important to the poem’s message are “really about the same.”

A Collection of Poems by Robert Frost

As the title of this post implies I could get into a conversation about author’s intentions versus readers’ interpretations, but that is the stuff of another post. I will say both should be given consideration when criticizing a piece of literature. What I want to spend a few lines discussing is the idea of taking a chance. Taking a chance “made all the difference” as some critical interpretations argue, or taking a chance may not really change one’s life as Frost implies. What is important to realize is regardless of the outcome an individual must decide to take a chance.

We live our lives with certain intentions. We interpret the events of our lives in various ways. But the intentions and interpretations fall flat without first taking a chance. Maybe taking a chance won’t change our lives but we’ll never know unless we take it.

-K-

A Collection of Poems (2015) by Robert Frost

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