Friday, August 10, 2007

The Road Less Travelled

Robert Frost won the Pulitzer Prize four times, an achievement unequalled by any other American poet. He was a teacher and a lecturer and wrote many popular and oft-quoted poems including “After Apple-Picking”, “The Road Not Taken”, “Home Burial” and “Mending Wall”.

Robert Lee Frost (named after Southern General Robert E. Lee) was born on 26 March 1874 in San Francisco, California to Isabelle Moodie, a teacher, and William Prescott Frost Jr., a teacher and journalist. With both parents as teachers, young Robert was early on exposed to the world of books and reading, studying such works as those by William Shakespeare and poets Robert Burns and William Wordsworth. He also formed a life-long love of nature, the great outdoors and rural countryside - as evidenced in the work chosen for this entry.

At times bittersweet, sometimes ironic, or simply marveling at his surroundings, one can also see autobiographical details in Frost’s works; he suffered devastating losses in his life including the untimely deaths of his sister, two of his children and his wife. He knew the soul’s depths of psychic despair but was also capable of delighting in birch trees ‘loaded with ice a sunny winter morning’. While memorialising the rural landscape, vernacular, culture and people of New England in his traditional verse style, his poems also transcend the boundaries of time and place with metaphysical significance and modern exploration of human nature in all her beauty and contradictions. Though not without his critics, millions of readers the world over have found comfort and profound meaning in his poetry and he has influenced numerous other authors, poets, musicians, and playwrights into the 21st Century.

Robert Frost died on the 29th of January 1963 in Boston, Massachusetts.
‘Safe!, Now let the night be dark for all of me. Let the night be too dark for me to see, Into the future. Let what will be, be.’ (“Acceptance”)
He lies buried in the family plot in the Old Bennington Cemetery behind the Old First Congregational Church near Shaftsbury, Vermont. His gravestone reads ‘I Had A Lover’s Quarrel With The World’.

This inspirational poem hangs on my study table throughout my university days...

The Road Less Travelled

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, 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.


aya said...

this is my favourite poem, the road less travelled. have it on the cover of my diary now, and always had it in some of my old notebooks eversince my secondary school days... for some reason~

TheHoopoe said...

well, i supposed, in every hearts and minds of ours, we wish to take this road less travelled. but, in reality, most of us don't, yet some of us do.

so, it speaks differently to different people at different stages of their lifes.

if we have not already done it, we have it there as we secretly wish we have done it or will attempt to do it in the future.

its in the romance of doing or wishing to do what is distinct to our own selves and defines us - as it did Robert Frost.