Robert Frost, Jack Kerouac, Gregory Corso, and the Road Not Taken

16 Apr


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 BeautifulWhen 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.


6 Responses to “Robert Frost, Jack Kerouac, Gregory Corso, and the Road Not Taken”

  1. Book Guy Reviews April 16, 2015 at 2:56 pm #

    Love the connections here. Thanks so much for sharing! If you’re ever interested in some other awesome book reviews and musings, be sure to follow! Thanks!

  2. Steve Rafalsky April 16, 2015 at 8:55 pm #

    Thanks for the post, Stephanie. Frost was the first to awaken me to poetry with his “Fire and Ice”, which, at 16, I loved and memorized. At the same age I read Kerouac, and later—after the Marine Corps—under the influence of Bob Dylan as well, hit the road myself. That was 50 years ago. Now I’m married to a Cypriot gal, and have a book that came out of the Beats and Woodstock—AND Christ—being readied for print, “A Great And Terrible Love: A Visionary Journey from Woodstock’s Sorceries to God’s Paradise”. But the Beats really started it.

    • Stephanie Nikolopoulos April 17, 2015 at 7:25 am #

      Can’t wait to check out your book, Steve! It definitely sounds up my alley. Thanks for sharing!!

  3. David Amram April 17, 2015 at 2:03 am #

    Dear Stephanie:

    Really nice thoughts of those many roads which cross our paths..

    Still trying to figure out myself which ones to take every day and i usually seem to take the one that career councilors, lawyers and adult types say is hopeless BUT if that road calls out for you to take it , that means …that’s the right one for YOU…so….TAKE IT!!!!

    Been going like a nut case and grateful to be able to do so!

    I am composing and writing new book with every spare second i can steal to embrace the grindstone here in Beacon NY, and between crazed gigs am receiving a LifeTime Achievement Award from LILY, from a group in NY that helps out people who are housebound, this April 20 in NYC. Dick Cavitt and Malachy McCourt will be the co-hosts.

    May 27 I will be awarded an Honorary Doctorate for the Arts from Brooklyn College and also be their commencement speaker

    The next morning, off to Oklahoma to conduct the Tulsa Symphony for May 1st concert at the new Woody Guthrie Center where they are programming my THIS LAND: Symphonic Variations on a Song by Woody Guthrie and then staying over in Tulsa two days to play with Jimmy LaFave, John Fullbright, the Red Dirt Rangers and all those genius Oklahoma singer-songwriter=guitar picking geniuses.

    Yassoo and…Ya-HEE!!!

    Then back the next day to make my Cornelia St Stadium on May 4th

    So it is fortunate that with all this frantic activity, my schedule wont allow me enough time to act my age!!!

    This Fall, there are 85th birthday tributes with concerts of my music etc in Manhattan, three places in Upstate NY, Toronto and Quebec City in Canada. Milan Italy.and in London and Scotland.

    There are also all kinds of recordings being made of my music, so by the time i am 90….I’ll be ready for Prime Time at all the senior-citizen centers on BOTH sides of the Rockies.

    Thank you for putting the repeat of that lovely 2012 bog about our meeting over the phone in 2001 and all you have done since!!

    you are spreading the light in your own way and that’s the best thing any of us can do.

    They are having a big “Beat” (shudder) event in San Francisco this June and I am happy to go out there to try to show the younger folks who love jack’s books so much that they would want to come , to share with them some of that SPIRIT to know that THEY should take all that energy that they feel from reading his books and USE IT THEMSELVES for ’THEIR work!!!

    TZ Hernandez will be there and we will do some stuff together, and he also understands that our gig while we are here is to make a contribution, not a killing.

    He is TERRIFIC!!

    A shining light whose book about Bea (a.k.a. The Mexican Girl) is a blow for MENTAL HEALTH and soulful as well. We have already done some spontaneous events together in Okemah Oklahoma at Woody Guthrie Festival TZ ( took Woody’s classic song “Deportees”, and has spent two years researching the actual Mexican farm workers WHO died in the plane crash that Woody wrote about in his song,and then lobbied to get the a proper burial and a huge headstone with their names .

    then he has Woody’s song performed and in the middle, intones each of their names as the song is being sung.

    We also did a performance on the spot in Denver for Neal Cassady Day and he will be at LCK this Fall.

    You have to meet him.

    Enjoy these glorious days of Spring and stay creative!!

    David (promising young composer) home 845.528.4305 cell 914.299.3497 (New Address) 28 Hammond Plaza Beacon, NY 12508

    Best YouTube selections

    URL for trailer of the film “David Amram: The First 80 Years”

    Link for viewing the film “David Amram: The First 80 Years”

  4. Jay Haeske April 20, 2015 at 11:34 am #

    Reblogged this on Retracing Jack Kerouac and commented:
    This was originally posted by New York writer Stephanie Nikolopoulos, lover of all things Beat Generation. If you haven’t read Burning Furiously Beautiful by now and am interested in Jack Kerouac (which I assume you are if you landed on my blog) you could do a lot worse than doing so rather sooner than later.

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