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Q: Origin of "road less travelled" ( Answered 5 out of 5 stars,   3 Comments )
Subject: Origin of "road less travelled"
Category: Reference, Education and News > General Reference
Asked by: geof-ga
List Price: $5.00
Posted: 09 Nov 2004 10:50 PST
Expires: 09 Dec 2004 10:50 PST
Question ID: 426710
The phrase "road less traveled" [or "travelled" as I would usually
write it!] , and variations thereon, is very popular in the US, but
little used here in the UK. Do Americans think of it as having any
particular origin or context; or is it popular simply because there
are lots of roads in the US, and some are used much much more than
Subject: Re: Origin of "road less travelled"
Answered By: tutuzdad-ga on 09 Nov 2004 12:40 PST
Rated:5 out of 5 stars
Dear geof-ga;

Thank you for allowing me to explain and to popint out the oringal
meaning of this phrase as most people understand it.

As mentioned by the commenters below, the American Poet, Robert Frost,
speaks of the road ?less traveled by? in his poem ?The Road Not
Taken?. Frost symbolically recognized these two paths, the road
frequently traveled (choices made by most people) and the ?road less
traveled? (the more difficult of the two choices and the one more
rarely selected) as the two fundamental choices, or the two ways to
live. He also saw these as opposing life decisions; potentially being
the two ways to live or to perish and suggests that the very nature of
mortal life allows us to only choose but one.


Robert Frost?s mother was obsessively religious and while he tended to
play down his own religious believes later in his own adulthood, he
grew up admiring her religious devotion and described it as
?beautiful?. No doubt Frost was well educated on matters of Biblical
scripture and his poetry often clearly alluded to religious references
though he preferred to consider himself rather ambiguously to be a
?Congregationalist? if he must be considered anything at all.


The origin of the road less traveled lies in Frost?s indirect poetic
reference to these particular Biblical scriptures; Matthew Chapter 7
Verses 12-14:

?Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you,
do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets.

Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the
way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in

Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto
life, and few there be that find it.?


Few people choose to travel (or ever find) the narrow (or harder) way
therefore the ?road less traveled? is figuratively ?the narrow road?,
or the road to salvation mentioned in the Bible and alluded to by
Frost. Certainly not everyone will agree that the narrow road is
relative to Christianity, since there are non-believers and believers
of different disciplines who also use this phrase, but clearly a
narrow, more difficult road is recognized as a far less traveled path
than the much broader and easier path chosen by most people.

The concept here (and thus the common meaning of the phrase) is that
when one avoids going along with the crowd simply because they?ve
found an easier way, one might be amply rewarded in life by enduring
the hardships of the more difficult path alone.

To quote Frost:

?Two roads diverged in a wood, and I--
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.?

I hope you find that my research exceeds your expectations. If you
have any questions about my research please post a clarification
request prior to rating the answer. Otherwise I welcome your rating
and your final comments and I look forward to working with you again
in the near future. Thank you for bringing your question to us.

Best regards;
Tutuzdad-ga ? Google Answers Researcher





Google ://





Clarification of Answer by tutuzdad-ga on 09 Nov 2004 16:56 PST
You might even "hear" something significant in his own inflection and
voice that you might have missed by simply reading the poem. Here are
some audio clips in various formats of Robert Frost himself reciting
the poem:

The Robert Frost Web Site

geof-ga rated this answer:5 out of 5 stars
Please see the appreciative comment I've already posted.

Subject: Re: Origin of "road less travelled"
From: frde-ga on 09 Nov 2004 10:56 PST
It had to be Robert Frost
Subject: Re: Origin of "road less travelled"
From: pinkfreud-ga on 09 Nov 2004 11:06 PST
I agree with the comment above. Frost's poem, which is taught in
thousands of literature courses, popularized the phrase.
Subject: Re: Origin of "road less travelled"
From: geof-ga on 09 Nov 2004 16:32 PST
Thank you, frde, pinkfreud and especially tutuzdad, for providing the
answer to something which has puzzled me for a long time. Now I know
that it originated with Robert Frost, I understand why the phrase is
so popular in the US, since he is such a revered poet. I also
understand why I have not been able to trace the source on Google, as
Frost did not use the full phrase, but "the one less traveled".
Incidentally, I am intrigued that Frost titled his poem "The Road Not
Taken", which the poem implies was the road MORE travelled. [Sorry
about the double-ell!] I perhaps perceive a note of regret there -
after all, the poet doesn't say whether the "difference" at the end
was for the better or worse. (Perhaps I'm being stupid, but I can't
see where I'm supposed to rate your answer; please assume you've been
given a constellation of stars.)

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