Discussion of The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost, and an original poem

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.

 

I feel like this poem represents my life so well. I’ve experienced so many forks in the road; I have so many interests. I’ve tried Chinese Medicine, hairdressing, skin care, insurance sales, tax preparation, veterinary medicine, and phlebotomy, to name a few. It’s easy to look back and think, “What would have happened had I taken the other road?”

As Frost’s poem implies, the roads are basically all the same. There’s no way to see around the corner, knowing what the result of any one choice will be. We make our choices, “way leads on to way,” and we follow the path our choices lay before us.  Only when we look back on our lives do we try to impose a sense of order on it all, claiming that the path we chose was somehow pre-ordained, more special than any other choice. My belief is that, given our individual characters, talents, gifts, and circumstances, whatever path we take will land us in essentially the same place.

There was an episode of Friends that illustrates what I mean. In the episode, they go back, and the show imagines what would have happened had their paths been different. There were some changes, such as Monica still being fat, and Rachel dating Joey before Ross. But ultimately, they all end up basically exactly where they had been before.

So, when I look back on my life, I see that my consistent loves are spirituality, writing/literature, art, and physical fitness. Through all the other diversions and detours, these four core passions have remained the same. And, so, as an ode to Robert Frost, here’s my version of The Road Less Traveled. I call it:

To All the Roads I’ve Traveled

an ode to Robert Frost

Many streets diverged in a bustling city

And, sorry, I could not travel them all

Being one soul, so long I pondered

And stood on the edge of one

 

Looking down each, as far as could imagine

Where weak eyes lost the view and blurred

And, taking one, t’was just as good,

And possibly more lucrative, pleasant would prove,

 

Because it sparkled, bright asphalt freshly paved,

Though ‘side from name and zoning laws,

Each street glittered much the same.

After tiring of one, ‘nother street down I wandered,

 

Lively and lost, shoes consumed like children’s erasers

Daylight fantasies, other streets smiling, teasing

One by one embracing each street’s charms

Till worn-out, satisfied, returned to first loves

 

Never one to limit self to One Love

Looking back, the dear ones rise to mind

Four roads diverged in a city

I took each and every one of them

And that has made all the difference.

–Raven Burnes

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