Page Chewing

A Deep Dive into Poetry: Robert Frost's 'The Road Not Taken'

December 09, 2023 Steve Season 1 Episode 1
Page Chewing
A Deep Dive into Poetry: Robert Frost's 'The Road Not Taken'
Show Notes Transcript

Do you ever wonder about the deeper meanings hidden within the lines of your favorite poems? Join me, Steve, as we venture on a poetic journey, breaking down and uncovering the depths of meaning in Robert Frost's 'The Road Not Taken'. We'll discuss each line, revealing the powerful emotions and intriguing nuances within this storied piece of poetry. Together, we'll compare our interpretations to Frost's intended meaning and marvel at the diversity of reactions that a single poem can evoke.

Within the comforts of our Poetry Appreciation club at the PageChewing.com forums, we'll invite you to share your reactions while dissecting each line together. As we discuss, we'll also announce the poem for our next episode, giving you enough time to ponder on it before we meet again. There's also a possibility of us venturing into Dante's Inferno, a lengthy but promising endeavor that has us all excited. So gear up, fellow poetry lovers, and prepare to dive into a world where words weave magic and emotions run deep.

The poem can be found here: https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/44272/the-road-not-taken

The article referenced: https://www.theguardian.com/books/2011/jul/29/robert-frost-edward-thomas-poetry

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Speaker 1:

Hello friends, my name is Steve and welcome to the Page 2ing podcast and trying something a little different on this episode. Recently I've been thinking more about poetry and an appreciation for poetry, and I feel like poets and poetry don't get enough credit, don't get enough attention for the art that they create. Poems can bring out a lot of emotions and they can elicit different reactions, very powerful reactions in a very few amount of words. They're very difficult to write and every word has weight, every word has meaning, every word has been carefully chosen for that purpose. So we I wanted to discuss a poem from every now and then, and I mentioned it on the forum and, of course, the great, wonderful people there had were willing to talk poetry with me. So we just.

Speaker 1:

The first poem that we're going to discuss is a poem by Robert Frost and it was just kind of picked just randomly, but the poem is the Road Not Taken by Robert Frost. So what I'm going to do is we're going to I'll read off the poem and then we will go line by line and I'll give you my reaction to different, to different lines, and I'm by no means an expert, this is just me having some fun. After I explain my reactions and hopefully you'll have time to maybe write down your own reactions or just mentally you think about it. I will read off to you what Robert Frost said about this poem, because there's a difference with, I think, how all of us interpret this poem and what he intended. Not all of us, not all of us interpret it, but I think how most people do, and I think it's very interesting how one person can read something and get and have a totally different takeaway from it, and I think it's just fun to do. And I will also be naming the poem for next week or for the next episode that we'll be discussing. So during the week, if you want to have, if you have some time, read off this poem and we will discuss it again next week.

Speaker 1:

And of course we have a new club on the forums over at pagedoingcom and it's called poetry appreciation. So every we have threads there for every poem and we break down every line and just have a fun discussion. So there's also talk about us maybe tackling Dante's Inferno, and then may happen in the future where it's a. That would be a long endeavor but we're discussing it. So for this first episode we will talk let me get this right, the road not taken by Robert Frost. So let's get to the poem Now. I will read the poem without any interruptions and then, like I said, we'll go back and I'll give you my takeaways.

Speaker 1:

Two roads diverged in yellow wood and, sorry, I could not travel both and be one traveler. Long I stood and looked down 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 long way leads on to way, I doubted if I should ever come back. Two roads diverged in a wood and I I took the one less traveled by and that has made all the difference. So I will leave a link below so you can, if you want, to read the poem for yourself, and you know, take time to break down all of the different, all the different lines, and break it down.

Speaker 1:

So on, the forum had a couple of reactions from Parometa. Her reaction was mainly about choices and individualism being a trailblazer by choosing a path less taken. Until we get to the first line of the last paragraph, and then I question whether this is really true, since it might just be self justification or what we call post hoc rationalization. Possibly both the rows are equally untroubled and the narrator rationalizes their choice by telling it this way. Also, our friend Susanna Imaginario choices and choices. Life is all about choices. Two rows, one seems less traveled than the other, but is it though and we do talk a few mentions that the line? I shall be telling this with a sigh. This reads to me like regret. Also, our friend Varsha and Carl both commented on it and the the reaction to this is really interesting, so I will go section by section.

Speaker 1:

The first line is two roads diverged in a yellow wood, and this took this away as and I didn't read any of the other reactions or read Robert Frost's comments on this poem, but that's read to me as faced with the decision by why it. But why is it yellow wood? You know why yellow wood? The second line and sorry, I could not travel both and be one traveler long I stood, and that read to me as contemplated and considered, with a path to take, making that decision alone, because ultimately we're all alone from the poem and look down one as far as I could to where it bent in the undergrowth, so peer down to predict or see what the future might hold. But the future is unknown for all of us. I think that's the that read to me as the the uncertainty of life. Like we, we look down, we try to predict what may happen, but we we really don't know. And the second section of the poem then took the other as just as fair and having perhaps the better claim because it was grassy and wanted wear though I throw that the passing there had warned them really about the same. So this read to me, as you know, took a chance because it took the other as just as fair and hope it was the right choice, the path not taken last time, trying to new, trying a new path. But the line had warned them really about the same. But is it a new path? Is it a new path or is it the same path? Don't know.

Speaker 1:

Now the next section, 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. So this read to me as the first line, with mourning. I read that as morning. It's spelled morning, like a morning of a day. So that took, that told me, that spoke to me as maybe it's a new day, a new beginning. Or is it mourning with the you like mourning, like you know, mourning something, the loss of something. The line no leaves a trodden black is black, representing the wrong choice. Black is generally references a you know negative or bad. You know something like no leaves a trodden black, that in leaves no step at trodden black had kept the first for another day. There's always tomorrow, there's always another time, next time.

Speaker 1:

That procrastination, putting off the hard choices or doing something different and instead doing something, what? That is familiar, even if it's the wrong choice, even knowing if that choice leads to another choice. It's an endless cycle and we're unwilling to try something new because we get so used to doing the same things over and over again, knowing that taking a different path may take us on a different route. We just do the same things over and over again. You know, we doubted it because we knew us not the right choice, but the previous choices, the previous choices, choices led us here and will lead us back to the same place if we continue. That tells me that we're just in this cycle of choices, of doing the same things over and over again, knowing that we'll be back at this crossroads.

Speaker 1:

So the next line, or the bottom, the last section, rather, 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. So this section, my takeaway was should you know, should be telling this with a sigh because we're in this, the cycle, and we're worn out. You know we should be telling this with a sigh. I shall be telling this with a sigh because we're we're in the cycle and we're just retired again. Two roads diverged in wood, but why would? Why is it would? Why isn't it a path of something else? Why is the? Why is the path would? What's the significance of wood? And taking the path less traveled, live with less uncertainty. It will lead us. If we take the path that is uncertain, maybe it'll lead us out of the cycle and out of old habits onto new paths that we haven't traveled yet. So my my thoughts overall on this one making the choice to take less paths or take paths less familiar, or what we, what we may consider a risk, the uncertainty of life and the unknown of where our choices will lead us. Making the choice to take that step on a new path makes all the difference. We're ending that cycle of back here again at this crossroads, so that that spoke to me is the uncertainty and these choices that we make. You know, how do we make those determinations? What do those determinations mean? That's how it spoke to me. I think for most of the people I've spoken with, that's generally the takeaway. But it was interesting because I found an article that mentions and I'll leave the link below from the Guardian that I'm reading from the article here Noble, charismatic and Wise.

Speaker 1:

In the years since its composition, the Road Not Taken has been understood by some as an emblem of individual choice and self-reliance, a moral tale in which the traveler takes responsibility for and so affects his own destiny. But it was never intended to read this way by Frost, who was well aware of the playful ironies contained within it. And but with the award in audiences you have to be quote, you have to be careful with that one. It's a tricky poem, very tricky. So this one carried a personal message for Frost. It was not intended to be, but most people take away from it which I think you know.

Speaker 1:

He did not subscribe to the models of self-determination or the belief that the spirit could triumph over adversity. Something seemed to him ingrained or inevitable. How free-spirited his friend seemed in comparison. This American who sailed from for England on a long shot, knowing no one and without no place to go, wrote his literary fortunes and won his prize, then sent sail again to make himself a new home. None of this was Thomas, it isn't in me, he pleaded. So this, there's more context on the article. Link it below.

Speaker 1:

But so this wasn't, wasn't that kind of tale which I think was really. It was really interesting because the takeaways are so different or so different from this. So again from the article. How can we evaluate the outcome of the road not taken For another? He had, the poet, chosen the road more traveled by then. That logically could have made all the difference and in the case was subtly missed. Frost set traps in the poem intended to explode. A more earnest reading. The two paths he wrote had been worn. Quote really about the same unquote and quote equally lay in no leaves. In leaves, no step. Atrod and black, showing the reader that neither road was more or less traveled and that choices may in some sense be equal. So very interesting. I love. I love that, but especially what I took away from it was not the case, was not what the author intended. It's a beautiful poem and I think it's very thought provoking. And it was even more thought provoking after I read his his intention with the poem.

Speaker 1:

But I think that's that's what's great about art, that's what great about, that's what's so great about creating something, because people can, you take a picture, or you paint something, or you write a poem, or you you create a sculpture, whatever it may be, you intend for it to be something because it's so personal and ingrained in you and you create this from your imagination. You, you manifest it to reality and you have a certain idea in mind and what someone else, someone else walks along and looks at it and what they take from it. They apply all of their preconceptions and all of their thoughts and all their, all of their experiences. They bring that to the table and they have a different perspective and they bring different things to to your piece of art and I think that's great. I'm sure sometimes it's a little frustrating for some artists because you intend to elicit a certain reaction, but I think having a reaction at all is a good thing, because we all share this experience together and we we have different reactions to different things. So I think it's very, it's just beautiful in a just beautiful in a way that we can. Art has this ability to to bring all these different emotions out of us and to to elicit these kinds of reactions. So I think it's just, it's really, really great. So that's that's my, that's my thoughts on that one.

Speaker 1:

I will leave the links for the poem and for the article down below. And yeah, I encourage you to, if you want to read the poem and kind of take it in and see what your thoughts are. And the next week or for the next episode, we will be talking about another Robert Frost poem and that is Acquainted with the Night. That's the one that we'll be discussing next. I will post that on the forum and our Poetry Appreciation Club and you know, if you, if you're there, come by and talk to us about it there or, you know, write down what your thoughts are and and read along with me and bring your own perspective to the table.

Speaker 1:

I'd love to hear from you if you are enjoying this. I think it's really great. So we'll see what the how this. You know what the reaction is. I would love to keep doing this. I think it's really fun. So hopefully you enjoyed it and we're willing to come back again with this with me another time, whether it's next week or a week after. I hope to do this on a regular basis, but we'll see. So until next time, thank you for reading this poem with me. Thank you for the discussion and we'll talk very, very soon. Thank you.