Two Roads Diverged- but I Sit

I know his poem is one of the most popular, most quoted, and most read while in junior high school, but can I be honest and say that I enjoy this poem because I actually enjoy it?

I have four poetry collections of Robert Frost, because he has always been one of my favourites. One on my bookshelf, one on my coffee table, one poked in my backpack, and the fourth laying on the floor near my bed somewhere. He is my ‘go to’ for a poetic encounter. Mostly because I often feel like when I read his poetry, Frost gently takes my hand, and leads me along his journey.

He identifies with nature as a by-stander and often shames himself for being so human as to forget to stop and admire the loveliness of the crow shaking the snow from his feathers.

His ability to describe, is what I enjoy most about his work.

He finds peace in the natural flow of nature, in admiring the smallest detail; like noticing two roads, diverged in a yellow wood…

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 sign

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.

Robert Frost, The Road Not Taken

I read this poem often, probably because I always feel like I am on a path, facing a path, or choosing which way to go. And the last stanza, just puts the nail in the wall, “Two roads diverged in a wood, and I- I took the one less travelled by, And that has made all the difference.” And we all love this part, because we all want to be brave, we all want to be ‘known’ to have chosen the road less travelled, to risk the comfortable for the possibly uncomfortable. Usually, this was always my favourite part to, the ‘after’, the victory in him choosing the one less travelled by.

But as life shifts, my reflection of the poem has shifted.

A few mornings ago, before work, I sat on my couch reading through his poems, and I read this one again. But I could not get past the first stanza.

It stopped me, actually.

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…

After I read that, I closed my eyes, and all I could see was myself, standing there, staring at two roads diverged in a yellow wood… but I stared and I did not know which road to travel, and my will told my foot to take a step, so I started to move, but stopped. I could see a glimmer of the afar, but I stood there, not knowing which road to take, and feeling sorry, that I could not travel both.

And as much as I wanted to keep going, as much as I wanted to read on until the punch line comes where oh everything is so lovely because I CHOSE the one less travelled by, and that has made- ..

but I could not move on.

I could not move onto the next stanza.

And I wanted to yell at him and tell Robert to WAIT, wait, I am not ready, I am not ready yet.

Is it ok with you, that I am not ready?

Because I am only on the first, I am, indeed, looking down one as far as I can, holding my bags, not knowing which to take.

And that,

is where I am.

Standing at a wood diverged, and it is time, so it seems, to choose, but I am not ready to choose, I am not ready to go on. And as beautiful as the ever after looks, as enticing as the sparkling green and the glowing blue may be, I cannot go, not yet.

So maybe I will wander here for a bit, in the middle.

Wandering, in the space that is a little darker, where the light fights to creep through the trees,

where the wind rustles the roof but cannot break in,

where the silence makes me a little anxious, but the night comforts me,

where I still have time,

to collect my things, and wash the sap from my fingers, and crunch on some more twigs, and stare at the lines of a orangey-red leaf, and search for the faint sound of a draining brook, and lye on the forest floor to stare at the encasing shelter of the towering trees, hovering over me, protecting me, because I am not ready,

I am not ready to pick the road, along that diverged wood.

Because right now, I am only one traveler, staring at it, feeling sorry, that I cannot travel both.

And being ok with that,

being ok with not choosing, being ok with not moving forward, being ok with admitting that I need my time, my space, my training pants on- a little longer,

being ok with all this,

I hope,

will make all the difference.

Frost, Robert. “The Road Not Taken.” Robert Frost: Selected Poems. Fall River Press, 2011. 153. Print

Photo by me

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