The wayfarer,
Perceiving the pathway to truth,
Was struck with astonishment.
It was thickly grown with weeds.
“Ha,” he said,
“I see that none has passed here
In a long time.”
Later he saw that each weed
Was a singular knife.
“Well,” he mumbled at last,
“Doubtless there are other roads.”

Analysis, meaning and summary of Stephen Crane's poem The wayfarer,


  1. Taran says:

    The wayfarer means that a person travels on foot.
    showing he is not using some kind of car or other transportation I feel that it means that he is slowly taking the path not with haste.
    Jacque’ Howard and Wes were 2 people here that I feel actually understood the poem giving it thought any way from their explanation I can give my own:
    The wayfarer,
    Perceiving the pathway to truth,
    Was struck with astonishment.
    It was thickly grown with weeds: It shows that even the truth can be ugly and look like the wrong path while the path of lying is laid with gold paved roads and silver engraved sides it is still the wrong path.
    “Ha,” he said,
    “I see that none has passed here
    In a long time,
    Later he saw that each weed
    Was a singular knife: Showing the truth of humanity as most humans never tell the truth they know it will hurt themselves or others not realizing that the path of lying the one with sliver edges hurts more than the thorns.
    “Well,” he mumbled at last,
    “Doubtless there are other roads: him understanding why no one ever took this path, with that he sets out for another path walking on forever to discovering another “better path”

  2. Jacque' Howard says:

    I took this to mean that he comes across what he thinks is a conquerable path that will lead him to the truth. And that no one else has bothered to go this route. So he takes the route, only to find that it is more risky and “not worth it” than he realized. Surely, there’s a better path. In all essence, he realizes what everyone else already knew. — Reminds me of the person who thinks they know everything and are better than everyone else, or that they have an “original” idea — only to realize — there’s a reason why people do (or don’t do certain things) but he had to find out for himself.

    The words, “Later” and “at last” were trigger words which to me meant, he came to a realization. The “Ha” to me suggested him setting himself above others.
    I think an individual will interpret the poem in a way that they have experienced or witnessed life.

  3. Peter C. Langella says:

    The truth no only hurts, it’s deadly. People rationalize svoiding it. Perhaps Frost’s “The Road Less Traveled” echos the same theme.

  4. Breena says:

    Its amazing. I, as a poet myself, love his poetry. I wish I could meet him.

  5. ea says:

    yes, why would anypne choose sawgrass when they could choose hot coals? lol.

  6. samah zeadeh says:

    i realy think iys a wonderfull poem it realy makes me remember how live is full of choice,and how aperso can controle his live through these choices.Also aman should always rwmember that truth is painfull.

  7. Wes says:

    I first read this poem in Elementary school, and it’s always stuck with me. I interpret it today the same way I did then, though it differs somewhat from the other analysis here.

    I believe it says that many times “walking the path of truth,” that is, telling the truth, will hurt. It may hurt others or it may hurt ourselves, and most probably both. The wayfarer’s decision to “seek other roads” is the same as a person’s decision to, say, tell a white lie when their friend asks them a difficult question. Or to fudge a little bit on a job application.

    Stephen Crane’s poem is an allegory of life. That is, at some point every person, or wayfarer, in life may resolve to follow the path of truth, and feel a great deal of pride in their decision. Yet, when they eventually identify the pain involved in ALWAYS telling the truth, they will abandon the path in favor of easier “alternatives” (lying).

    • Wes says:

      Wes in 2021 replies. I know many of his poems by heart memorized.while in Fredonia College 1959-65. I can still reside many.

  8. Andrew says:

    I dont understand the poem its too complicated

  9. yann rolland says:

    this short poem is one i like…It says to me that in life we can’t live with the truth, that we must find other ways and poetry can be one of them.

  10. jose tangerine says:

    yo i can dig what all yall be sayin

  11. Scott says:

    I really like this poem, it reminds me of a book w/the same title – scifi, but w/good writing.
    I think that this is about how, when we see just how hard the path we wish to take is, we tend to look for an easier route. Also, that truth, to one degree or another, demands some suffering.

  12. Veronica says:

    this poem is realy good i am doin it for my hsc this poem overall symbolises life in that life is a journey that will force tou to make choices.The end result of these choices will wither satify your goals or make you a better person . we can conclude by saying that the moral of the poem id not the end result of the journey taht matters but more how you get their – the experinces, obstacles and how you learn from them

  13. kylan says:

    I have come to see it as more of a vagabond who stumbles onto the pathway to truth and finds it ironic that he has found what many will never find even spending there who lives looking for it and yet he wasnt even looking for it. the wayfarer by name is an aimless wanderer and then he seeing the thorns are knives relises that it will be painfull to reach the Truth and seeing no other way abandens the path to Truth and goes back to what he was before , well thats just how I have come to see it anyways.

  14. Natasha says:

    This poem is amazing. I think he is describing the excuses that people make to avoid the fact that they are taking the wrong path in life.

  15. Ron says:

    I first heard this poem in elementary school. Young ones can grasp some pretty abstract conepts. I give students poems and things that are suposedly over their heads. I’m glad my teachers challenged me and didn’t just give me worksheets. I have quoted this poem many times to my students. If you are going to challenge students it may necessitate some not understanding immediately.

  16. Tom says:

    ties to this cliche:

    “Taking the hard right over the easy wrong.”

  17. Josh says:

    I believe he is trying to say that saying the truth is not always easy but is always worth it in the end. Some people can not handle the pathway to truth so they end up choosing the alternative routes of lies.

  18. Anthony says:

    I love this poem. The way the traveller is daunted by “thickly grown weeds”. This states that the “path of truth” is much harder to travel, then, say, the path of lies. And his “singular knife” reference to the weeds, showing how the truth is not only hard to follow, but harmful to some.

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