The Atlantic

Letters: How to Interpret a Poem

Readers debate the meaning of “The Road Not Taken.”
Source: Jackie Lay

America's Most Widely Misread Literary Work

The text accompanying a new Atlantic video, animated by Jackie Lay, challenged the prevailing interpretation of Robert Frost’s “The Road Not Taken” as an ode to individualism.


Like “The Road Not Taken,” “Mending Wall” is another Frost poem that can be interpreted many different ways.

My wife and I were both high school English teachers many years ago and used this poem to illustrate reader response methodology. We had opposite interpretations to this poem (she thought it was all about how Frost was endorsing walls and the aphorism “good fences make good neighbors,” while I thought it was all about Frost trying to criticize the tendency of humans to

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