Sunday, February 24, 2013

ROAD NOT TAKEN (A favorite poem)

"Road at Chantilly" by Paul Cézanne

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.

Copyright © 1962, 1967, 1970
by Leslie Frost Ballantine.

"When you arrive at a fork in the road, take it."
- Yogi Berra

Robert Frost on his own poetry:
"One stanza of 'The Road Not Taken' was written while I was sitting on a sofa in the middle of England: Was found three or four years later, and I couldn't bear not to finish it. I wasn't thinking about myself there, but about a friend who had gone off to war, a person who, whichever road he went, would be sorry he didn't go the other. He was hard on himself that way."
Bread Loaf Writers' Conference, 23 Aug. 1953

The literal meaning of this poem by Robert Frost is pretty obvious. A traveler comes to a fork in the road and needs to decide which way to go to continue his journey. After much mental debate, the traveler picks the road "less traveled by."
The figurative meaning is not too hidden either. The poem describes the tuogh choices people stand for when traveling the road of life. The words "sorry" and "sigh" make the tone of poem somewhat gloomy. The traveler regrets leaves the possibilities of the road not chosen behind. He realizes he probably won't pass this way again.

There are plenty literary devices in this poem to be discovered. One of these is antithesis. When the traveler comes to the fork in the road, he wishes he could travel both. Within the current theories of our physical world, this is a non possibility (unless he has a split personality). The traveler realizes this and immediately rejects the idea.
Yet another little contradiction are two remarks in the second stanza about the road less traveled. First it's described as grassy and wanting wear, after which he turns to say the roads are actually worn about the same (perhaps the road less traveled makes travelers turn back?).

All sensible people know that roads don't think, and therefore don't want. They can't. But the description of the road wanting wear is an example of personification in this poem. A road actually wanting some as a person would. However: some believe this to be incorrect and believe "wanting wear" is not a personification, but rather older English meaning "lacking". So it would be "Because it was grassy and lacked wear;".

the artist:
Paul Cezanne is today considered a forerunner of modern painting, even though in his lifetime he exhibited little and his contemporaries were impressionists. Cezanne was born in the south of France in 1839, and studied law in his early years. However, he continued attending drawing classes. Cezanne's father was not particularly pleased when one day he mentioned he wanted to paint for a living. Good thing his father didn't really blow his top, since the inheritance Cezanne received allowed him to live comfortably and paint.

the painting:
The painting "Road at Chantilly" stems from 1888, which is during Cezanne's "constructive" phase. This phase of his professional painting career is marked by the parallel hatched brushstrokes in certain formations that build up mass. In this painting you can see the masses of color (light and dark) overlapping to create a sense of trees.
Even the house and the end of the road is not painted as such: look close and you'll see a few painted windows with some lines as a roof. This create the mass of a house at the end of the road in Chantilly.

Buy this poster at!
title: "In the Park of Black Castle" by Paul Cézanne
size: 17 in. x 22 in.
price: $18.00
Click here to buy now!

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The Robert Frost Website
A Frost-fan who's decided to build a shrine to his/her hero.
The Academy of American Poets: Robert Frost
Entry about Auden, his life and his works and a few links
Robert Frost: America's Poet
Some biographical info but, also a large selection of complete poems by the author.
Frost in Cyberspace
"A Web Site introducing Robert Frost to a new generation" and even features audio samples of readings.
Literary Traveler: The Nature of New England
Site about New England poets. However, you won't find the standard biography, but inside info on Frost's hometown, home, burial place, and much more.
Webmuseum: Cézanne, Paul
Webmuseum entry of Paul Cézanne with biographical info and some images of his famous work. Also some background info on his painting style.
The Artchive: Paul Cézanne
Entry about Cézanne, with nice biographical information with links to images of his paintings.
Paul Cézanne on the Internet
Artcyclopedia entry on Cézanne with an extensive list of links on where to find him on the net.
Paul Cézanne
Nice summary of biographical information on Cézanne taken from the Grolier Encyclopedia.
Road Trip
Site about the upcoming film "Road Trip."
The Road not Taken
Apparently there's an annual rally race adventure in Oregon. This site has the info.
Choices are never easy
English paper about "The Road not Taken" (students looking for info: don't get any ideas now ;-)
The Logging Road Not Taken
TIME Mag's web-only essay about logging and conservationism in America.,8599,52270,00.html

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