Roads, Journeys, Memories

My recent thoughts have been on what is remembered and what is forgotten in the collective consciousness. Why do we remember specific events when those events, at the time, seemed ordinary and easily pushed to the recesses of memory?  We are defined by moments that follow us wherever life takes us. We become a compilation of ideas, conversations, connections and remembrances.  We create our personal narrative from these recollections.

I have come to see that aging is a remarkable process for it gives us the gift of retrospect.  When we hear a familiar melody, smell the aroma of fresh bread, feel the smooth delicacy of a baby’s hand, or walk along a well travelled path, those long-ago moments flash across our mind.  They become unmistakably transformed from the ordinary to the extraordinary.  In my experience, these profound moments usually present us with a decision point.  And that brings me to Robert Frost’s “The Road Not Taken.”

According to David Orr, poetry columnist for the New York Times Book Review,   Robert Frost’s “The Road Not Taken, “appears to exceed that of every other major twentieth-century American poem, including those often considered more central to the modern (and modernist) era.”

We remember this poem for we all have confronted “two roads diverged.”  And yes, whatever path we chose or will choose becomes who we are in the present.

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 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 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 a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

8 Comments »

  1. Thank you for your excellent choice of poem, very valuable and, of course very well written. The poem has been a challenge for everyone who has read it. The first book that I chose for the “reading challenge” was a book, I am sure, the title of which was taken from this poem. “The Road Less Traveled”/ A very good read!
    I really like the painting of the horse at the beginning of post. That also speaks of a road traveled! ! !

    Liked by 1 person

  2. It’s a poem I always took for granted but never read carefully. Noticing the contradictory last line, I thought it odd. So I searched for Orr’s book, found its full title and confirmed my suspicion after reading his PBS interview. Very, very interesting! The Road Not Taken: Finding America in the Poem Everyone Loves and Almost Everyone Gets Wrong Thank you for this! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • I thought your would like that article, as I did. Interesting thoughts, but then poetry does not like to be confined to one opinion. I find that even the poet, once the words are out in the universe, cannot direct the narrative. When I look back at the literature courses taken in high school and beyond, poetry suffered from strict adherence to rules. Creativity is cannot be bound for when it is, we tend to move away from the message. My thinking on this comes from following the idea of open access, another interesting subject. But I digress. Thank you so much for your insights – always appreciated.

      Liked by 1 person

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