Poetry, Frost and The Road Not Taken

poetry bookWriting Poetry

This week, I decided to enroll in a poetry writing class. I haven’t done any kind of creative writing in almost ten years, and I’ve written only a handful of poems in my life (all of them when I was in college), so I thought that tapping into this new creative outlet to see if I have any aptitude for it would be fun and challenging. I got the idea in yoga class (of course) when my teacher read some poems at the beginning of a few classes. So, here goes.

There are actually essays to write in this class, and the first was to describe a favorite poet who wrote at least 40 years ago and tell how we imagined that this poet would influence the kinds of poems we will write. Well… I don’t really have a favorite, at least not at the moment, so I focused the essay on the first classic poem that came to mind, one of my favorites: The Road Not Taken, by Robert Frost.

My Essay

I don’t really have a favorite poet, at least not yet. In fact, I haven’t read a lot of poetry attentively in a while, and that’s one of the reasons I’m taking this class. There are a lot of poems that I like, though. One of my favorites is Frost’s “The Road Not Taken.” I suppose I’m not alone in admiring Robert Frost. I like that his poetry reveals that something which at first might seem very simple is really quite profound. The wonderful thing about this particular poem is that there are so many possibilities for the journey it describes. I suspect that a lot of people read it and conclude that taking the road less traveled was the right choice because it led to some wonderful experiences that would not have happened otherwise. But this is not necessarily the case. We aren’t really told what happens to the writer on that road. Reading and absorbing a poem like this opens up a world of ideas about the journey of life. Any one of us may think that we can explain our present circumstances based on a choice, or perhaps a set of choices, that we made in the past. But is this really the case? Can we know with certainty that it’s better to be unique and go against the status quo? We can’t. And yet something inside of us (at least something inside of me) romanticizes the possibilities of travelling in a different direction.

Maybe our fascination with the road less traveled is due to the predictability that we imagine will be the result of following in the footsteps of the majority. Once the path is beaten, so to speak, we are more likely to know where it leads simply because there are more people out there who can tell us what to expect. If you look at life that way, you can reasonably conclude that new discoveries and advances come only when people take risks and choose less traveled roads.

I know I’m not exactly addressing the topic of describing a favorite poet, but I think that the kind of poetry I will write will be somewhat in line with my ideas about Frost’s work. I’m open to finding out, and to this end, I’ve just purchased a book of American poetry so that I can read some of the classics that I haven’t read since college and find out where my poetry tastes lie. I do know that my preference is to say more with fewer words. Perhaps that’s what draws me to poetry in the first place. Words are limiting, but they are still the best tools we have for communicating. Truly artistic poets give great power to few words. That certainly seems to be the case in the Frost poems that I’ve read. It always seem to be the shorter once that speak to me the loudest.

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