Friday, March 26

Happy Birthday to Frost

Today is Robert Frost's birthday. I know this because I listened to Garrison Keillor's Writer's Almanac this morning. He read a great Frost poem, but when I think of Frost I always remember another, The Road Not Taken. Its probably the most famous American poem. At least, everyone can quote the last two lines. People use those words to promote the importance of their independence. So they can go their own way. Be their own person without regard for the statuesque. But if you read the whole thing, that's not really what Frost's poem is about. At least that's not how I would read it.

There is a man at a cross roads in his life. He has to chose a path. Both are clear paths. Both paths are equal. There is not a wrong choice there, but he has to choose one. He has to choose or else stand there, choosing forever. He knows that theoretically he can always come back and take the other path later, but realistically in life one can never go back. Way leads to way, as he says. Once he has chosen a path he is forever changed. So he is choosing knowing that he is leaving the first path behind. That he is giving up one experience so that he may experience the other. And because of this his life will be different. Not better. Different.

The Road Not Taken
by Robert Frost

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;
Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that passing there
Had worn them really about the same,
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in the wood, and I -
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.


The Bug said...

Sometimes I think we can make ourselves crazy second guessing decisions. I tend to not do this much because it feels fruitless. We should just enjoy the way leading onto way and all that it brings us. Easy to SAY, isn't it?

Iota said...

Oh, I like the way you describe it.

I wonder why he took 'the one less traveled by'. And it confuses me a little, as earlier in the poem he makes it sound as if both pathways are equally worn.