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Robert Frost

When I was in English 251, my professor told us that Frost s poem The Road Not Taken was frequently misunderstood. The only foreknowledge of the poem that I had was that one of my companions on my mission loved it, and he would recite it quite often. Then in class we had the opportunity to memorize a Frost poem. So, I chose The Road Not Taken. I found it very interesting to hear the mistake that Olivia made in class when she said that it was called the Road Less Traveled. It was then pointed out that that was a common mistake. I did not believe that until I heard two others call it, The Road Less Traveled. So I began to dig deeper into the title itself. The poem is not about the road that is less traveled but about the one that the narrator did not take. I always considered this poem to be a happy poem, based on the reaction that my companion had to the poem and the interpretation that he gave me. It inspired him to make decisions that weren t with the crowd. So, it was very interesting to actually sit down, memorize the poem and think about the meaning. The poem is about the road not taken. This makes me think of all the decisions that I have made in life where I wondered afterwards, What would it be like if I had made a different choice? The word regret even comes to mind and that is strange because it has the opposite feeling of what my companion shared with me. It seems to me that Robert Frost knew very well what he was writing, but he hid it well in a weave of surface illusions which could give you an easily seem message, but the truth lies deeper. I suppose that is why we study him and his poems with a Professor of English and why we have books and interpretations of his work. But I digress. That is the issue that I have with poetry. There are so many different interpretations and I always feel that either mine is obvious to everyone else or that is it completely off the mark. So, with The Road Not Taken I am wary about my ideas. I guess I should be comfortable with my ideas, even if they seem a little off. Returning to Frost s poem, I find that it is ultimately about a lonely traveler who has a decision to make. He makes the choice, despite the appeal of the other road, and knows that he will not come back to see how the other would have been. Again, Frost s tone is regretful and he says, I shall be telling this with a sigh. I see the poem as a post-decision depression reflection on what has just taken place. We all make decisions in our lives. Some are life-changing decisions and they are, at times, tough to make. Here the narrator sees life as a journey or a simple walk in the woods. There comes a fork in the road and a decision must be made. Upon examination as far as the eye can see, no exact outcomes can be predicted. Both paths or decisions seem to be about the same and there is no telling what will happen. But, the traveler chooses one and then takes it, knowing that the path will takes its course and there will not be time to see how the other would be. Then, as if foreseeing the future, the traveler says that he ll tell his story about this monumental event ages and ages in the future. It will be a story of how that decision made all the difference in how his life turned out. It seems that Frost s poems all deal with events, which are deep in meaning or important, such as decision-making or death. Fire and Ice is deeper than just the end of the world. It may be about the destructive nature of desire and hate and how, in truth, both are things to be wary of. It may be a personal warning to others that these feeling can destroy a person. We talked about these ideas in class as well as Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening. I was amazed at the ease with which we were able to dive into the deeper meaning of the poems. Frost was so talented with his word. I just saw a film up at Sundance that talked used a quote from Frost. It was to a 17 year old guy who was dying of Leukemia. A letter written to him said. But I have promises to keep, and miles to go before I sleep. It was very fitting for the film and it added meaning to the poem for me. I tend to agree with the class when we discussed Frost s use of nature and familiar words to get his message across and yet he wrote in parables, in a sense, using symbols that are obvious on the surface but only truly clear to those who see the true meaning. The issue of criticism and interpretation has always been difficult for me because I wonder what the author had in mind and how far off the reader really is. Sometimes I think that we can look too deep and find meanings that aren t there at all. It was fitting when the class watched the video clip of Robert Frost, when he was giving a certain address to a large audience. He read a few lines of poetry and then said, Now THAT is a death poem! So, I am glad that we have a professor who can guide us, or at least tell us when we are way off, but even then, how do we know that he or she understands the true intended meaning that the poet had in mind? I guess it is up to me to read, interpret, study and understand. I figure the most important part of poetry is the feeling and message that you take from the poem, whether it is one of inspiration, empathy or sorrow.


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