Discussions

German Translation of The Road Not Taken

Dorothee Berkenheide, Germany: Congratulations to your page on Robert Frost’s ‘The Road Not Taken’!!! I was looking for some information on this poem and found more than I dared to dream of on your pages. The links are very interesting and useful, too. Thank you very much for your work!

By the way, do you know where to get a good German translation of ‘The Road Not Taken’? I’ve tried to find one, but up to now without success… : (

Film

Jack: I was wondering if you ever heard of this short film, if it is available on video and if you knew where I could purchase it. If you haven’t heard of it, you will enjoy it if you can find it. Mostly fall scenes blending together with Mr. Frost’s narration of The Road Not Taken and Reluctance. I saw it in school, many years ago. Please let me know.

Marked or Kept ? – The Road Not Taken

Charlie: For most of my adult life I have carried in my memory the last three lines of The Road Not Taken, I suppose as my personal statement of rebellion.  Earlier this month I decided, both because I love the poem, and because I wanted to see if my 66 year old brain was still capable, I determined to memorize the poem for myself.  Coincidentally, I managed my first successful recitation on March 26, Frost’s birthday, although I did not realize that until I saw your website this morning.

But there is a problem. I was speaking to my daughter…, when we encountered a difference in what we remember.  Third verse, third line, “Oh, I marked the first for another day!” as I have it, from Louis Untermeyer, ed. (1885–1977). Modern American Poetry.  1919. Anywhere else you find the poem, marked is kept, “Oh, I kept the first…”

The sense of the poem is not changed by this word, but why is it different in Untermeyer’s edition?  Was it changed later by Frost, or did Untermeyer take liberties?  I also wonder, should I correct my memory’s edition, or continue on the road less traveled by?  I am somewhat inclined to stick with what I have, not that one is right and one is wrong, but my (and Untermeyer’s) version is different from the commonly promulgated; more profoundly a less traveled road. Any advice?

Shefali: I noticed that even http://www.bartleby.com has two versions of this poem. It attributes the ‘marked’ one to Louis Untermeyer, ed. (1885–1977) . Modern American Poetry.  1919. http://www.bartleby.com/104/67.html. And the ‘kept’ one to Robert Frost (1874–1963). Mountain Interval.  1920 – http://www.bartleby.com/119/1.html

Charlie: Well, Shefali, I am still pondering the question. I have got several links to the August 1915 issue of Atlantic Monthly, but when I get there I am required to subscribe, …

Shefali: I wonder if you’ve heard it in Frost’s voice yet. It’s the ‘kept’ version (in Frost’s voice) available at http://robertfrostoutloud.com/TheRoadNotTaken.html . Afraid this itself lends more credibility to the ‘kept’ version. ——-

The Road Not Taken – contradictory lines?

Anurag Upadhayay, a school student from New Delhi wrote that he found the following lines confusing: 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

He thought that the third and the fifth lines were contradictory. Apparently they are. Frost writes ‘it was grassy and wanted wear’ and immediately ‘the passing there had worn them really about the same’.

Shefali: There have been countless interpretations of these lines, including:

  • That Frost’s decision was based on some third choice that is not shared with the reader in the poem.
  • That actually both the choices that lay before him were equal – there was no difference only that each would lead to a different outcome.
  • The strength of a poem should come from the truth that it tells, regardless of the circumstances from which grew. In considering “The Road Not Taken,” we have to ask whether readers who are unaware of Thomas’ personality or Frost’s intentions can be expected to recognize irony independently, from the work alone. Contradictions abound. The two roads are described as being “just as fair,” but the very next line says that one has “a better claim”; the speaker says he “kept the first for another day,” but immediately says he would probably never come back to it. But the contradictions of this world, and especially of human perception, are the business of serious poetry and not necessarily indicators that the poet who points them out is being insincere about his beliefs. In order to tip the general reader off to his intent, to let us all in on his joke, Frost’s premise would have to be so weak or lame that anyone would know not to take it seriously.
– David Kelly, in an essay for Poetry for Students, Gale, 1997.
  • When faced with two paths, two options, it (human mind) favors that which “[has] perhaps the better claim.” In the case of the choice of two paths in a wood, the interesting path was selected because it was simply “grassy and wanted wear.” The latter four lines counter the ideas presented in the prior set. When the rational human mind peruses the list of options when given a dilemma, it can often find no features that would distinguish one from the other, because both options are “worn really about the same.” It is apparent that two separate modes of thought are present in this set of seven lines.
The first is an intuitive, instinctual, desperate search for the better of the two options by using irrationality. The second mode is a purely logical, superficial comparison based on each option’s individual merit operating on rationality. The ability of the traveler to oscillate between the two modes of thought seems to indicate that people, when faced with difficult situations, operate on a careful blend of both in order to fulfill their desires for resolution.
  • Richardson
Robert Frost: “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 In the end, remember Frost took delight in trying to mislead the reader!
Read more on this in the section What Inspired The Road Not Taken.

Researching the 1851 Oregon Trail Migration

Albert Belanger: Bonjour, I am helping a friend in Houston who is doing a video documentary on the ROGERT FROST ancestry.  Robert’s Great grandfather, Samuel Abbott Frost lived for a few years in my town of Brentwood, according to some old town record books I discovered in the town vault (1844, 45, 46, 47) and died here in 1848.  I have been trying to find more info on this generation and where Samuel is buried.  No records here for the cemetery, just the fact that he died of consumption in Brentwood. Any suggestions on where we can find more info on Samuel?

Do you have something to add to this? Would you like to discuss something here? Do drop in a note to me.


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