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Friday, February 14, 2014

Road Not Taken — Two Versions — art by Chuckie Alston

The process of poetry happens as I walk to the carpool stop, as a move between meetings at work (and sometimes in the meetings), as I make coffee in the morning and as I shampoo my sparse crop at night. How do I help words unleash their power under poetic reading? Which words do I choose? When do I speak in plain details, when do I ask my readers to make intuitive leaps, when do I swirl into an abstraction of rainbow oil slick?


Search me.

With Chuckie Alston's wonderful illustration are two versions of the same poem, "Road Not Taken," written, you've probably already surmised, with a nod to Robert Frost. Which version do you prefer and why? I would love to have your input. I know which one I'm leaning toward, and I wonder if you'll lean the same way. Many lines are the same between versions, but the endings are toned quite differently.

I'd sure appreciate a quick comment about your preference, either in the comments section below or on the Facebook post the brought you here. Especially if you don't know anything about poetry.

Tcheuss,



VERSION 1:

"Road Not Taken"


I found myself once in a frosty wood
well equipped for the adventure but stopped
where the trail split north and south. There I stood
looking up one path, then its opposite,
sucking my canteen and wishing I could

explore both unknown opportunities.
Calling out overhead, a raven passed.
Was north versus south the only shopping
available? I laughed—and headed west,
easing through pristine forest. It felt good

to leave the trail (and leave no trace), and it’s
been many years since the day I diverged.
So now I’m at home. My young child has just
gone down, leaving me to my craft of words,
a golden practice that earns some copper.

I’ve grown glad to consider myself weird.
Strange trajectories rarely find me scared.

******************************************


VERSION 2:

"Road Not Taken"


I found myself once in a frosty wood
well equipped for the adventure but stopped
where the trail forked north and south. I stood there
looking up one path and its opposite,
sucking my canteen, thinking how I could

coordinate the opportunities.
Calling out overhead, a raven passed.
The wear of the trail had cramped my shopping—
instead, I followed her flight, climbing west
through pristine forest. The hood of the sky

drew down over me and my choices.
                                                             Fast-
forward years from the day when I diverged,
and I’m at home. My toddler daughter just
went down, leaving me to my craft of words,
a golden practice that earns some copper.

I’ve grown glad to consider myself weird.
She pads to the study and squeaks, "I'm scared."

*****************************************

Which do you prefer?

3 comments:

  1. Nice! I like version 1 better. I enjoy the word flow and ruggedness of of it - love the canteen line. I like the scared squeak... but it's not as satisfying in terms of "closure" for me - but that can be interesting too. Is her fear connected to your emotions and choices? is a question that comes up? or does it simply show the importance you have in her life now? I'm curious about the "the hood of the sky" too... the raven and the laughter in the first one I really enjoy. Thanks for sharing. Kristina

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks so much, Kristina. I feel steered toward a middle version that doesn't offer much closure, but has the more of the word flow of version 1. I really appreciate your eyes and mind on this--and always for that matter! Off to InterPlay :)

      Delete
  2. As in the poem, I've landed on a third route, somewhere between the other two. The main feedback I got was that "shopping" was too weird a word choice. Thank you everyone!
    ***


    Road Not Taken


    I found myself once in a frosty wood
    well equipped for the adventure but stopped
    where the trail forked north and south. I stood there
    looking up one path and its opposite,
    sucking my canteen, thinking how I could

    drink them both without a doppleganger.
    Calling out overhead, a raven passed.
    The worn trail had its opportunities;
    instead, I followed her flight, climbing west
    through pristine forest. The hood of the sky

    drew down over me and my choices.
    Fast-
    forward years from the day when I diverged,
    and I’m at home. My toddler daughter just
    went down, leaving me to my craft of words,
    a golden practice that earns some copper.

    I’ve grown glad to consider myself weird.
    She pads to the study and squeaks, “I’m scared.”


    ReplyDelete