Department of English

Faculty of Arts, Chulalongkorn University


The Wayfarer


Stephen Crane

(1955 )

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, 10
“Doubtless there are other roads.”





Online Etymology Dictionary

way (n.)
    O.E. weg "road, path, course of travel," from P.Gmc. *wegaz (cf. O.S., Du. weg, O.N. vegr, O.Fris. wei, O.H.G. weg, Ger. Weg, Goth. wigs "way"), from PIE *wegh- "to move"

Online Etymology Dictionary

fare (n.)
    O.E. fær "journey, road, passage, expedition," strong neut. of faran "to journey" (see fare (v.)); merged with faru "journey, expedition, companions, baggage," strong fem. of faran. Original sense is obsolete, except in compounds (wayfarer, sea-faring, etc.) Meaning "food provided" is c.1200; that of "conveyance" appears in Scot. early 15c. and led to sense of "payment for passage" (1510s).

fare (v.)
    O.E. faran "to journey, set forth, go, travel, wander, get on, undergo, make one's way," from P.Gmc. *faranan (cf. O.S., O.H.G., Goth. faran, O.N., O.Fris. fara, Du. varen, Ger. fahren), from PIE *por- "going, passage," from root *per- "to lead, pass over" (see port (1)).


Online Etymology Dictionary

perceive (v.)
    c.1300, via Anglo-Fr. parceif, O.N.Fr. *perceivre (O.Fr. perçoivre), from L. percipere "obtain, gather," also, metaphorically, "to grasp with the mind," lit. "to take entirely," from per "thoroughly" (see per) + capere "to grasp, take" (see capable).

    Replaced O.E. ongietan. Both the Latin senses were in Old French, though the primary sense of Modern French percevoir is literal, "to receive, collect" (rents, taxes, etc.), while English uses the word almost always in the metaphorical sense.

9  singular:


1a: of or relating to a separate person or thing: individual b: of, relating to, or being a word form denoting one person, thing, or instance <a singular noun> c: of or relating to a single instance or to something considered by itself
2: distinguished by superiority: exceptional <an artist of singular attainments>
3: being out of the ordinary: unusual <on the way home we had a singular adventure>
4: departing from general usage or expectation : peculiar, odd <the air had a singular chill>





Study Questions

  • Notice the frequent words that mean "to see" in the poem. What sense of "see" does each give? Trace the changes in what is seen by the wayfarer at each seeing moment. How does his view alter at each stage of perception?

  • What do you think of the singularity and multiplicity references in the poem? Why might the singular "pathway to truth" in line 2 become multiple "roads" by the last line?

  • For such a short poem, much time passes between its lines. What is significant about each passage of time?
  • What is the wayfarer at the end? Is he still one who travels or wanders on a road or path? How does the meaning of traveling or wandering and of the traveler or wanderer become more critical in light of the experience described in the poem?



Sample Student Responses to Crane's "The Wayfarer"

Response 1:
Study Question






Student Name

2202234 Introduction to the Study of English Poetry

Acharn Puckpan Tipayamontri

July 3, 2012

Reading Response 2






Works Cited










Response 2:

Student Name

2202234 Introduction to the Study of English Literature

Acharn Puckpan Tipayamontri

September 6, 2011

Reading Response #1



<Text of reading response>










Stephen Crane




Crane, Stephen. Prose and Poetry. New York: Library of America, 1984. Print.

[IIC CS 813.4 CP]


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Last updated June 27, 2012