In honor of National Poetry Month, I wanted to share some poems.
I write a lot about the road. I write about Jack Kerouac’s On the Road and even wrote a whole book about it called Burning Furiously Beautiful. When I was much younger, though, all the way back in elementary school, I encountered Robert Frost’s “The Road Not Taken.” Here it is for your reading pleasure.
Robert Frost’s “The Road Not Taken”
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.
Frost begins his poem, “Two roads diverged in a yellow wood, / And sorry I could not travel both.” It reminds me of the Gregory Corso quote: “If you have a choice of two things and can’t decide, take both.” It’s not always that easy, though, is it? You can’t always choose to go both left and right at the same time. You can’t always choose to stay and to go. Sometimes you have to make a choice.
Robert Frost says, “I took the one less traveled by.” And that’s certainly what Jack Kerouac, Gregory Corso, and the many other poets and writers associated with the Beat Generation did. They choose the road less traveled.
Choosing the road less traveled is not an easy choice, though. It is an unfamiliar one. It is one without precedent. It comes with risk.
Sometimes, though, it’s worth it. It can’t be a reckless risk. It must be, as my father would say, a calculated risk.