Great popularity often leads to grave misunderstanding. Such has been the case for Robert Frost’s widely beloved poem from 1915, “The Road Not Taken.” Regularly recited at important rites of passage, the poem has repeatedly been misinterpreted as a celebration of the courage required to take the path “less traveled” (line 19). On the contrary, Frost’s poem serves as a powerful examination of the burden of free will and the fictive power of memory. And far from being celebratory, the tone is at once remorseful and ironic. The poem’s speaker stands in the woods before a fork in the road and feels sad that they can only choose one. Though at first the speaker judges one of the paths as being less worn than the other, they quickly realize that both are equally overlaid with untrodden leaves. The speaker then chooses one path, telling themself they’ll take the other sometime in the future, yet they also know it’s unlikely they’ll have the opportunity to do so. In a final twist of irony, the speaker imagines a future scene in which they claim to have taken the less-traveled road, and that this wise decision “has made all the difference” (line 20).