Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth.
These opening lines from Frost’s “The Road Not Taken” are familiar to most, as are the last two (I took the one less traveled by /and that has made all the difference), but the melancholy of the poem is seldom analyzed. Frost wished that he could travel both paths at the same time, to be “one traveler” on both. Frost’s poem is so relatable, both because of its simplicity and rhythmic overtones, and because we have all faced a fork in the road between one path and another. Like Frost, we have had to make the difficult decision to trod down one path to the exclusion of the other, and like Frost, we wonder where our lives would have taken us had we ventured down the other path.
This photograph was taken in the forest surrounding Glacier Bay National Park in the southeast portion of the Inside Passage in Alaska. I took it before I discovered my love for photography in earnest, but it has remained one of my favorite photographs. As I have shared before, photographs of paths are a common and beloved subject of mine. Like Frost, I am fascinated by those who have come before me–those who have “trodden the leaves black,” if you will. I am likewise curious who will come after me, and whether they will see what I saw in the continuum of the path–its past, my present, and its future. Perhaps this one will wash away, and a new one will be cut through the undergrowth in its place. Perhaps it will fall out of favor, in lieu of a straighter, more direct path. Perhaps someday a young poet will be faced with the choice between the two, and he will think of Frost like I did those years ago.