Analysis of Robert Frost’s Poem “The Road Not Taken”

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I have often thought both in terms of what Robert Frost meant by this poem and its application to our lives.

This is perhaps the question that most troubles me: I do not know what I should do for a living. I still dont really comfortably know that answer to this question even after consulting the many books that basically say: Do What You Love and the Money Will Follow,and also listening to friends, who recommend buying property and planning for the future.

I did eventually buy a condo and I paid cash for a 2-year-old car. I am now working on saving enough money to retire. I have twelve years, but my body is tiring.

Now, back to the poem.

Frost, or the voice in the poem, said that he could not travel both roads that he saw in a “yellow wood.” A yellow wood to me, while obviously a reference to autumn, spoke more as a cowardly environment, where people seldom follow what is in their heart vs. the world that forces them into its direction. The voice came from only one person. He looked down one road as far as he could to where it bent, which I think is key. I think the voice is talking about having regret, where like a mid-life crisis, you begin to wonder why you chose the career you did. He also implies in using the term undergrowththat something remained under the surface that caused the detour or awareness. Undergrowth is teeming with organic mulch that is good for growth. It is damp, it is dark, it is the culmination of a churning and collecting of all sources of dead and dying life and now something can grow from it.

He chose the other road and walked it as far as he could see the other roads end, before it bent, and he said of it that it had the better claim and why is because it was Grassy and wantedto be worn, but he realized that both roads were actually about the same in terms of wear.

The voice in the poem also says that on both roads no leaves had been trodden black. Maybe, he means that not many people have even considered the two roads, or made a choice like this. Perhaps, this implies that most people do not make conscious choices. Those that do make conscious choices have regret or no regret it seems.

He talks about leaving the first road for another day, but quickly realizes that life can be distracting and you never actually can go back to the place where such a decision was warranted. Most of us are stuck with decisions we have made. He concludes, that he will be telling this poem with a sigh, which implies that much has passed and perhaps he remains as uncertain as the first day.

He talks about the divergent roads, and he took the one less traveled and that made the difference. He is not as clear as I would like in knowing this all-important message. But, as a poet, Frost, had misery, his father died when he was 11, he worked a slew of unfulfilling jobs, attended Harvard but had to drop out due to health concerns, had a difficult period in New Hampshire for 12 years working on the farm, first born son Eliot died of Cholera, son Carol committed suicide at 38, his daughter Irma developed a mental illness, daughter Marjorie died in late 20s after giving birth, Elinor died after being born. Poultry farming and other endeavors were unsuccessful. There were no publishers for a time, only two poems published. Frost sold his farm, moved to England. War broke out, he moved back. His wife Elinor died in 1938. I can see all his commitments ending in failure, because a poet thinks in terms of parables, not practicals. While a poet doesnt make much money and very few great poems are written, like Frost, you end up teaching… well some poets are lucky enough to end up that way. Most poets are never remembered. I think most die embarrassed. What Frost is saying in his poem is that he followed a path that he really couldnt deny. It is who he was. He wrote a poem about it.

We are the road less traveled and we actually have very little control over what jobs we get, directions we take, but also this idea of the author creating this so-called dual decision?

Here is only the one road for a poet and it is lonely. The abuse he cast proves he should not have been a father. His childrens’ lives spoke of the abuse that truth received, where the abused abuse, where a constant listening and informing of the truth is the ultimate sacrifice, from where he stood outside and called the shots; his children suffered inside.

He affecteda personality in his poetry, like God created a world that does not exist. For the world washes over us smoothing us down as we move against each other so that one grain of sand is no different from another. The trodden leaves, their very personalities, our purposes, are equally unworn, Bentonly in the undergrowthafter a time in which we have ignored our true selves.

So, we are the Gods of our existences by making choices to do what we want, saying there are two roads, where one might say there are many, but there really are only two, the correct and the wrong one. One represents your true being and the other represents where you should have gone; not been abusive, done well on the farm. But, I am no farmer and neither is he. Thats why I never played with the gift of childbirth. From what I know, I have no business making babies. I am a dreamer, at best a breeder of lies, not children. What I seek to create are the words that so impressed me as a child. The road was laid out ahead by the men of my ilk. We do, we show the artifacts of ourselves and there is no other way of moving us. There is only one way the truth and the life. We are like art collectors, gathering pieces to tell the story of who we are, what we like, and what is valuable to us. It is culture, and where there are enough of us we rule the world by these self-products.

Our beliefs, attitudes, and values blanket the world, and that world is a perpetual influence upon others, who must craft similar words and follow the same rules, always compared against language, against shape, against what is true for us. But, of course I only speak of other poets, not the general public, who could care less about poetry and literature.

The Road Not Takenis what the poem is really about, that is, that road is the one we should have taken, although poised as having no meaning, inevitably it is the more honorable one, implying a sacrifice of the self, his son would still be alive, his daughter not emotionally distraught, perhaps. Although I would have liked to talk to her. The quiet death of Frost is complete, where our lives become meaningless anyway, our words are left to confuse unless our lives are truly studied.

What is the truth of us, what road should we have taken?

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“It’s You,” Review of Alexandra Naughton’s Poem “you it’s all ways you…” and Robert Frost’s poem “The Road Not Taken”

“you it’s all ways you it will all ways be you it is you it’s all for you it’s all ways you it will all ways be you it’s all i do it’s all ways you all the little things it’s all the scary things i do are for you like you you you and I never tell you it’s actually pretty creepy god and maybe you like maybe you and maybe already know and maybe that’s why you keep me around but what do any of us do is this the way the only thing I do I guess it’s what I do like you you you” – Alexandra Naughton, from My Posey Taste Like

 

illustration for Naughton and Frost It's you copy

The first thing that comes to mind when reading the above poem by Alexandra Naughton ‘you it’s all ways you…‘ is how relationships are like awkward power trips and once you get on one side of the balance that person always remains either recessive or dominant. There is something about them that makes us admire them, they demonstrate mastery of our weaknesses or where our mastery is reflected by the greater content of life as insignificant.

As a poet, I often feel inferior. Everything about life seems to shake its head at me; what a sorrowful indulgence poetry is. But, then I think as with Naughton’s poetry, I can relate to it. It means just about everything in this time and place. It colors life with meaning and intensity. Poetry, literature, art makes life worthwhile. Without it, there would only be the breeze, the leaves, the stillness of architecture, and the movement of shapes. There would be no inward response, no shared understanding, just shadows and shapes, the dance of light and dark outside of the cave.

I’ve been in relationships like Naughton describes. In this poem, even now, I know this person, who I will probably never see again. There is no point. I feel so far from grace, that I can never be saved in her eyes. I don’t think we can ever meet even as passing ships because we travel in different waterways. She is exactly aligned with the every day, and I am enshadowed by the curse of trying to bring beauty and truth. Even at this I am weak, immature. She would walk into a room and command it. She was the perfect external manifestation of my beauty and truth, my hidden meaning. Thus, “it’s always you… it’s actually pretty creepy… and maybe [she] already [knows this] And why [she] kept me around…” But, to keep someone around only lasts as long as you can figure out what it is about yourself that the other person finds fascinating and then their use is gone. They no longer have anything to offer; in effect, we don’t need them, whereas in the case of the dominant paradigm it keeps reminding us of our weakness until we address the issue. Some of us can never change. Eventually, it drives us crazy. The spirit gives up. We can’t sit on our laurels. We have to confront our fears, become stronger.

I also want to address Naughton’s use of lower case, the words “all ways,” as well as “you you you,” or the phrase: “like do you.” I also note that the running together without punctuation can create different meaning or emphasis.

Lower case exudes a lack of confidence, a wanting to remain under the radar. The lack of punctuation implies a lack of commitment but also of the poet to imply any number of statements.

“All ways” refers to all the ways that this person is the focus of her attention. “All” of it is for him/her. “All ways” by definition refers to “by all routes,” thus, as with the first statement: “you it’s all ways you,” it means that “you it is by all routes you.” There is a centrifugal or central focus, where the protagonist from any direction moves toward her beau. “it’s all ways you,” means “it is by all routes you.” This is versus “always,” which means “at all times; all the time and on every occasion.” So, there is a qualification where it is not all the time(s) him, nor on every occasion, but she is talking about how everything leads to him. This is an interesting assignment, where for example, this person seems to be a cause in her life, something that leads her back to the same place and time. He is the embodiment of something, an event perhaps, that brings her right back. She is not concerned at any point in “at all times; all the time and on every occasion,” just with by all routes.

The use of “you you you,” is to repeat in echo, in overabundance, to the point of ad naseum. In the section: “it’s all the scary things i do are for you like you you you and i never tell you that it is actually pretty creepy god and maybe you like maybe you and maybe already know…”

She does scary things for him, which are like him (in the way he does them) and like him (as in becomes him), and with the redundancy, it is like a reminder, a nagging, everything is an egotistical romp for him, it feels like he victimized her and is a psychopath. It has been said that psychopaths keep people around to victimize them like cats play with mice as in a “parasitic lifestyle.”

The phrase “and maybe that’s why you keep me around but what do any of us do is this the only thing I do i guess it’s what I do like do you you you,” says she is kept around to serve the victimizer’s purpose, while she is questioning what do people like them do, as she seems to have become him: “is this the only thing I do?” and then she says: “i guess it’s what I do like,” and it seems like it is what she does, she likes him, but it is like an unwelcome response, as in, “so then this happens?” And there is a sense that she likes to make love to him (“do you”) as an effect, where she cannot control herself and she is blaming him: You did it. You, you you as in scolding him, but also as I mentioned earlier all roads lead to him. He is the cause and effect of her behavior. She has become him. The abused abuse.

What appears on its face as a romantic love story is actually a take on victimization and dependency. What do you think? I have also wanted to address the Robert Frost poem “The road not taken,” as it relates to external direction/environmental influence. For the main character in Naughton’s poem, we have learned that while she seems to like the road ahead, and where she was interrupted and forced to travel a dark one she could never see “to where it bent in the undergrowth.”

What does it mean not to have been given two roads from which to choose? Has she become someone else and thus like him she is inclined to upset someone else’s direction? Is she like a vampire, whose life now becomes one where she sucks the blood from others just as unlucky?

Frost writes that there were two roads and he wanted to travel both and sought to decide, where both roads were worn about the same and realized he probably would not have time to travel both. He figures looking ahead in time that having taken one he would have been distracted and never make it back, and so with the two roads ahead, he decided to take the less traveled one, and for him that made the difference. The persona decided to be different than most, like a poet perhaps, where his life, in general, began with his father dying when he was eleven, the family moved to New England, where his mother supported them as a teacher. For twenty years, after graduation as valedictorian, an honor he shared with the woman he married, casual attendance at Dartmouth and Harvard holding a variety of jobs, and having failed at running a farm. He and his wife had four children, they lived in poverty, he abused his family, his son committed suicide, his daughter had a complete mental collapse. Frost was not the man depicted in his poems. (Taken from the introduction of Robert Frost’s poems in The Norton Anthology of American Literature, Third Edition Shorter, 1989.)

So, in a sense, Frost was like the persona in Naughton’s poem. “Frost, perceiving in himself some of his father’s tendency to vent distress by abusing his family, became deeply distressed, even suicidal.” (Ibid.)

Yesterday, I smelled a dead man’s body

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Yesterday, I smelled a dead man’s body.

And the flies knew before I did,

Like some new restaurant, they were

At the door, even going underneath it.

I knocked repeatedly and no one

Answered.

One minute standing and the next

Unconscious forever.

I saw the man, thin, goateed, gray-haired

Seemingly viable, kind, and soft-spoken.

His car was without hubcaps, one of those

Light Toyotas, dark-colored like the night sky.

He always wore the same jacket, pants and shirt

That matched his car.

We had cordial conversations and not much more.

I never thought to bother him.

We have our own lives.

Maybe he lost his job,

Fell off a ladder,

Had a heart attack;

I just don’t know.

There was a gentleman’s silence

Between us.

No family, no wife, no children,

Perhaps the economy is to blame:

Enron, Bank of America, anything

Too big to fail?

Review of Sergio Y. by Alexandre Vidal Porto and Alexandra Naughton’s poem: “put my little party dress on.”

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While I was at once afraid of my illustration given that it may reflect my relationship with the author, keeping in mind Picasso’s statement that every painting he made was a painting about himself, I came upon the book Sergio Y. by Alexandre Vidal Porto at approximately the same time I was about to draw it and luckily the book by Porto relates to Alexandra Naughton’s poem. (Alexandre and Alexandra) They both, the poem by Naughton and the tale by Porto, relate to happiness.

Whereas the main character of Porto’s book Sergio realizes to be happy he must become the woman who lurks inside him, so too Naughton’s main character talks about having to alter herself to fit in, where there is this blasé attitude on the outside, but obviously internal turmoil. This is likened to the character known as Sergio becoming Sandra, where there is a cool, calm, and collected person with seeming no external evidence to the big change she eventually endures to become happy. Both characters seem to be externally subjected to a patriarchal system, where Sergio’s father had a hard time accepting him like the victimizer of the party dress wearer, who seemed to have demoralized her. The image of a shark comes to mind with its eyes closed, where the innocent victim is simply swimming. There is a sense that the water could be dangerous, but why is one gender more likely to be victimized by this beast? I think as the murderer (Laurie Clay) admits, there was a moment of madness, where she remembers her father’s not liking Sandra and telling Clay that Sandra’s transsexuality was “the devil’s work… And that must have stayed in my subconscious,” as she “pushed Sandra with all my might…[and] I can still hear the curtain tearing.”

The story does not have a happy ending and perhaps that is the point; there are so many unrealized and damaged people, that to live happily is to forget about the zombies. One person’s finding happiness forgets that there are others, who because of distorted perspectives and self-projected revenge act out their anger against those they feel threatened by.

The indictment that Sergio makes is about society, its professionals, even psychiatrists, aren’t trained or haven’t the sensitivity to see that one might be suffering from the desire to be a woman, where in this case, she is trapped in a man’s body.

What is great about Sergio Y. is, as with most Latin-American literature, is that there is the element of surrealism. What begins with simple sentences, where the “I” does this and that, the story seems to become a pattern of lines for something much more complex and yet becomes a parable that reveals an easy solution.

While Porto deals with the timely issue of transexuals and the simple joy in finally manifesting their internal desire, I hope to explore the unseemly craving of pedophiles, for example, as a future project, where both, I would think, are victims of as well as victimizers. In a society such as ours, where government is obligated to ensure the happiness of its people, how can one group’s desire involve the suppression of another’s rights?

And now a look at the poem by Alexandra Naughton:

put my little party dress on
put my little party face on
put my little perfume on
put my little record on
put my little body on
put my little lie on
put my little on
put my like
put it on

 

Alexandra Naughton’s poem “put my little party dress on” (above) moves architecturally from bigger to smaller, a building that might fall to the right. After reading the poem six times, I see the thoughtfulness in the equality of each line lessening as the poem descends by one less letter. There is something luscious in that. Put… Put… Put… She is putting things on, a dress, a face, a perfume, a record, her body even, to lie, to little, to like, to put it all on.

There is a lot of “little” too and everything is hers. Then toward the bottom, she says she has to put her “like” on. This implies that the persona is not happy, that she cannot find things likable in her world?

I know that we project our capacities to either respond to the world positively or negatively.

I imagine the persona: She is petite. She has a little party dress. She must be going to a party or out. She has a party face, a false exterior to something that is going on inside, something keeps her from enjoying life. She has to falsify.

She’ll don perfume to attract, to cover up? She’ll put a record on, I don’t know why since she is leaving; unless of course she is still in the process of dressing. She’ll put a lie on, which, I assume, relates to faking happiness/interest in someone else, to pay attention. But, what is it to put a “little” on. I assume it relates to a little effort, then she’ll put that like on.

I can’t imagine putting on a face, a falsification of my feelings. I am my feelings. I do have a public job and it’s true throughout the day, I am gearing up to perform. I tend to be quiet when I can’t be positive. I quietly articulate, am careful not to offend. When I do get to work, its atmosphere helps me to adapt. I tell myself it is only going to be for a while and that it is necessary for me to survive. So, I guess I do put a party face on.

I need to also mention that the book from which the poem comes, My Posey Tastes Like, has as a reference: ‘choose your last words this is the last time cuz you and I we will be born to die’ – Lana Del Rey. So, one may assume that the poem takes the perspective of Lana Del Rey, her winsome, lazy, restrained participation in a world of parties, perfumed ladies, records playing, bodies not really interested in being viewed, penetrated, or having to be positive.

I feel the poem, as I have garnered from her work and has been suggested by Marta Pombo (See: https://savioni.wordpress.com/2016/05/05/a-look-at-alexandra-naughtons-poem-i-am-like-a-queen-/), that Lana Del Rey and the persona may have been sexually abused or as Pombo suggested, her mother might have been: “A woman whose mother has been sexually abused by her partner will very likely produce the same in her love relationship(s) with men.” She seems to remain distanced and a victim of objectification .

The poem too may be an indictment of a culture, where women dress up, fake smiles, don perfume, and put lies on. What is underneath this falsification? What has happened? Why is one forced to like the world? Isn’t the world a lovely place?

Coincidence

 

You sit for a second on the bench and then the view is gone. It’s some room fit with equipment and a bathroom. The breezes blow across your face, and then there is only darkness and the “I” disappears. Every second is a gift. Every thought, a timely prayer. Every relationship, no matter how it differs from television or the movies, is real. I think we are always withholding love. We don’t recognize the people we are with, in every aspect, in each moment, but they are US. We are all the same, in the same thoughts, looking out eyes that cannot see ourselves, only each other and we still don’t recognize it. We are of one mind. On the level of the “I,” we are the same. We can learn to love if only we practice. Take risks with strangers. I believe in coincidence.

A Look at Alexandra Naughton’s poem “i am like a queen”

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Alexandra Naughton’s poem “i am like a queen:”

     
     “i am like a queen on a throne cold as blossoms on a cliff side clinging to some
     thing any thing waiting and all ways cold and all ways waiting because that is
     how you are perfect.
     
     “i don’t want to settle any more, for dirty cushions or not enough time or the cut of
     your stare, like why am i always waiting for you. i don’t want to sleep in a fugue
     state alone i want your thick limbs around me sometimes. i want to feel like i’m
     in a world on my own and i just need a visitor so i can know.”

 

The persona in Alexandra Naughtons poem i am like a queen,is like a queen on a throne. She is also Cold as blossoms on a cliff that are clinging toanything.In every way she is cold. She is always waiting and in this waiting it makes her man perfect.

Still, she does not want to stay this course. She is tired of the mess in which she is forced to live. She doesnt seem to have enough time. She is tired of her mans severe stare. She hates always waiting. Shes tired of sleeping in a manner that causes her to forget who she is.

The persona in the poem wants her mans thick legs wrapped around her.

She wants to feel like she is on her own, and she just needs someone to visit her.

The persona of the poem seems to be a product of a man, who houses her in isolation. She is a queen, held up on a pedestal by him, but perhaps using emotional manipulation to do so.

i am

i dont

i dont

i want

These are the nouns and verbs of the sentences in the poem.

She uses breaks between the following words: any thing,” “all ways,” “any more,and some times,but she has used alwaystoo, so we know she is aware of the seeming pause, where any thingmakes you question how thingscould be different. A thing could be a vine or an event, the presence of her man. She is not on a cliff literally. She needs to be given a sign. In every way too she is cold, not just physically in terms of her feeling cold inside, but she affects chilly, and you might garner a cold personality. In every way she is waiting. She waits on her man, she waits on things to change. I dont know of any more ways someone can wait. Can you think of some?

Her not wanting to settle any morespeaks of not wanting to settle on anything, not just from here on out.

Some timesalludes to a break between times, it holds us just as her mans intermittent leg holdings.

In these choices, we are made to feel the same waiting she must feel waiting for her man.

Knowing her poems in My Posey Taste Like are based on the Lana Del Reys We Were Born to Die,I can feel the singers long and her low maudlin voice.

This and Naughtons poem my posey taste like,from the book My Posey Taste Like manifests the seeming abused Lana Del Rey character in that Del Rey in her videos hangs out with extreme men, who are often older, tough, and seeming brutal. Why would such a beautiful woman choose such extreme men? Who do they represent? What makes them attractive to her?

When I read Naughton I sense a self-disconnected woman. She is powerful in her ability to wait. She is powerful in her coldness as we, or perhaps it is just me looking on. While she waits on the cliff, I am behind her in a meadow. I understand her. I am like her. All the women I have wanted were indifferent and for that reason they too were perfect. There was an absence, which must have/or still does complement me. My father died when I was ten. That event seemed to undermine all my security. He was a doctor. He represented the highest level of achievement: Social, psychological and economic status. I strutted around like an arrogant little boy whose father was a doctor. I was proud of him. I felt like I could become anyone and then he died and I lost all my confidence. I have withdrawn. Could that be the reason I am attracted to strong women, to women who appear as a mystery to me? My mother, a runway model and commercial artist, did not seem to be a mystery to me. Her energies and interests were my own. She represented beauty and she created beauty. The women I have truly yearned for were confident and beautiful, but they did not create beauty necessarily. I did not agree with their politics or ideas, we would often fight. I was jealous of them because of their practicality. My very existence is contingent upon an aesthetic consciousness and appreciation. The women I have appreciated most did well in business, kept moving from job to job until they were happy. I remain at jobs for many years until points of the inability to work there or because of some major change appears and makes it plain that I must move on.

Naughtons character doesnt want dirty cushions any more. She no longer desires not having enough time for herself and she is tired of her mans cutting stare. She asks why she is always waiting for him? She doesnt want to sleep separated from herself, where one would advice reconnecting, and maintaining her whole self. And perhaps the time has come when she is no longer interested or cannot compromise.

She wants his thick limbs around her. She wants to feel like she is in a world of her own.

I think we all come to this point, where the one we are with, who is not meeting us half-way starts to earn our disinterest, our distaste, and eventually we get it. They are either incapable of loving us or they dont want to. It has nothing to do with anything we can change. We cant change the things about us that they want. Maybe thats why we are drawn to them. They see our weaknesses. They remind us of things about us that we regret, and perhaps we should be moving to correct them. We sense the impossibility and yet we dont want it to be that way. I remember an exs mother coming to me and telling me that her daughter just didnt have fireworks when she met me and so it would never work. I understood that. There were fireworks for me. In fact, by that point, it became desperation. The die had been cast and there was no hope that she and I would ever get back together. I had to live with that: The stark reality of there not being fireworks.

Naughton does this for me as a reader. She does so much more as well about a woman and her control. And of course you can take away the gender assignments, this is a human problem as so indicated in Naughtons characters predicament. I wish her character well. She deserves to be happy. I hope her man wakes up and wraps his legs around her. But, as with me, I think the die is cast. These kinds of things inflict wounds and in time if they were together, the woman would exacter her revenge: Nature is always seeking an equilibrium.