Friday, 13 July 2012
ELDER POETRY INTERLUDE: The Road Not Taken
Following on yesterday's post about regret, this came to mind - definitely related. The poem is often misquoted as “the road less traveled” from the penultimate line. Those phrases mean two different things.
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 the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I marked 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 a wood, and I,
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
Can there be an American who does not know of Robert Frost? Winner of four Pulitzer Prizes among numerous other awards, poet laureate of the U.S. and, of course, the story of his new poem, The Preface left undelivered at the presidential inauguration of John F. Kennedy in January 1961.
Frost had written The Preface for the occasion to be followed by his recitation of another of his poems but glare from the snow was so bright he couldn't see the paper on which the new poem was written. So he recited from memory the other one, The Gift Outright, and The Preface was never heard. You can read it here.
Frost was born in San Francisco in 1874. He lived and taught for most of his adult life at colleges in Massachusetts and Vermont while turning out a body of work known for its plain-spoken celebration of rural, New England life, of both the wonder and harshness of nature with not infrequent pessimistic undertones.
I like that he once said, "I would have written of me on my stone: I had a lover's quarrel with the world." He died in Boston in 1963.
Here is Robert Frost's own reading of The Road Not Taken.
At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Nancy Leitz: Uncle Arthur to the Rescue