Navigating Life’s Choices: Lessons from ‘The Road not Taken’ and ‘Poof’

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Through this class, we’ve read many poems, plays, and short stories, ranging in different backgrounds, from past romances, symbolic messages, to rape and violence. Much of the poems we read stuck out to me, as some did not. The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost was my favorite poem that we read this year. As some people would say “the most misread poem”; David Orr, a writer for The Paris Review stated, “this isn’t just any poem. It’s “The Road Not Taken, and it plays a unique role not simply in American literature, but in American culture —and in world culture as well.

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Its signature phrases have become so ubiquitous, so much a part of everything from coffee mugs to refrigerator magnets to graduation speeches, that it’s almost possible to forget the poem is actually a poem.” (“The Most Misread Poem in America”, 2017) This poem is famous because the poem isn’t really about what people intentionally think its about. Most people only consider the surface level of the poem, which consists of a man lost in the woods without knowledge of which path to take, but in reality there is a deeper meaning.

Robert Frost is a well known poet and storyteller. According to the website of Robert Frost by Henri Matisse, “Born on March 26, 1876. Robert Frost was an author of searching and often dark meditations on universal themes and a quintessentially modern poet in his adherence to language as it is actually spoken, in the psychological complexity of his portraits, and in the degree to which his work is infused with layers of ambiguity and irony. Robert Frost’s work was highly associated to rural life

in New England. The poet often uses the New England setting to explore complicated philosophical and social themes. As a well-known and often-quoted poet, Robert Frost was highly honored during his presence on earth, receiving 4 Pulitzer Prizes. Robert Frost father was a former teacher who later turned newspaper man. His father was also known to be a gambler, a hard drinker, and a harsh disciplinarian. For as long as his allowed, he had a passion for politics. Robert Frost resided in California

until the age of eleven. Frost moved with his mother and sister to eastern Massachusetts, after the death of his father.” (“Robert Frost and His Poems.”) Later in his life he had six children and even wrote several books, such as “Stopping By Woods On A Snowing Evening” and “Mending wall”. He passed away on January 29, 1963.

The poem starts out by Frost’s friend and poet, Elliot Thomas. As Frost doesn’t mention it being about him, a lot of people would assume it’s about Frost. Elliot – said by Frost, was a very indecisive person when it came to having two options, never knowing what to pick. Frost then goes on by describing that there are two different pathways, and going into one or the other could have different outcomes. They come across two paths as the are walking around in the woods. Elliot, being the indecisive person he is, doesn’t know which path to take often standing there for a good amount of time deciding and contemplating which path would lead to what. What Elliot never realized was that you’ll never know what is down each of the paths until you walk down both. I think this is where people start to get the idea of this poem being about life decisions, and what choice will have what outcome.

Frost wanted to get a relation to life through this poem. The theme and message relayed was that you can’t really decide what the outcome is in a situation, and you can’t regret picking that choice because you chose it in the first place. People can’t choose what happens in their life, but they can choose what will happen after something bad, happy or sad does comes up. It’s the fact that you won’t know what is down what path until you go down both. You can’t be so fixated on what would’ve happened if you chose another option, you have to live and learn from it. Not many times you get to redo what you’ve done, and when you do, you might even be more disappointed in the second decision you made. Even though this poem was written some time ago, this ties into what is going on in today’s society, especially in high school. Us teenegers are so worried about fiting in that we are scared we might make the wrong decision that will jeopardize it. We all have to do us, meaning that we shouldn’t have to rely on the choices we make to make us cool or not.
Frost then goes by describing the scenery of where all of this took place-this goes on for a few lines. He talks about the two paths and what is so different about them. One of the paths is more worn out than the other, and one of the paths looks as if the path was less traveled, which is where this poem gets its title from. He then proceeds by explaining that he took the path less traveled by finishing the poem by stating, “And that has made all the difference.”(line 20). I think that he wants the reader to infer that people can not be scared of making different decisions than everyone else. You have one life and you can not be scared of risks, even if that means taking the path less traveled.

This poem is very controversial in many different ways, some being can we choose what happens in our life or does picking a specific choice affect your whole life. I think this poem reached many people, more than Frost was intending to. You won’t be able to know what will happen if you choose one path over the other. Life is full of obstacles and you can’t be scared of outcomes to the choices you make.

Talking about my favorite poem from this year leads me to a play we read this semester entitled, “Poof”. If you have any idea of what both of these stories are, you are probably wondering what do these have to do with one another. Both of these pieces have really deep underlying messages attached to them. Both of the authors took huge risks in creating these pieces.

Poof is a contemporary play written by Lynn Nottage. Nottage was born November 2, 1964. Through her life she attended both Yale and Brown University. Playing parts in Broadway, Yale Repertory, Capital Repertory etc. Winning a lot different awards and memberships to very known organizations including, the New York Foundation Of The Arts, and The Manhattan Theatre club. Even at the age of eight she had written her very first play. According to the Lynn Nottage website, Nottage was a recipient and holder for a lot of various accomplishments,” Nottage is the recipient of a MacArthur “Genius Grant” Fellowship, Steinberg “Mimi” Distinguished Playwright Award,PEN/Laura Pels Master Playwright Award, Merit and Literature Award from The Academy of Arts and Letters, Columbia University Provost Grant, Doris Duke Artist Award, The Joyce Foundation Commission Project & Grant, Madge Evans-Sidney Kingsley Award, Nelson A. Rockefeller Award for Creativity, The Dramatists Guild Hull-Warriner Award, the inaugural Horton Foote Prize,Helen Hayes Award, the Lee Reynolds Award, and the Jewish World Watch iWitness Award. Her other honors include the National Black Theatre Fest’s August Wilson Playwriting Award, a Guggenheim Grant, Lucille Lortel Fellowship and Visiting Research Fellowship at Princeton University. She is a graduate of Brown University and the Yale School of Drama. She is also an Associate Professor in the Theatre Department at Columbia School of the Arts.” (About Lynn Nottage). Nottage has not only been recognized as the amazing writer she is, but the true feminist that she is makes her stand out even more. I think that Nottage’s pieces are so famous, because she’s not afraid for people to know she’s a feminist, I think that it makes the author and reader more connected when the readers know a little more about the person writing the story.

Poof is a play written for equality of sexes, Nottage being a feminist. The play itself has many different feels of emotion to it. There is deep background to the play, but the lightness of humor makes everything much easier to read without the overwhelmness of sadness. This play grabs a lot of attention from readers because the piece is very out there, you have to be a very confident writer to publish a play about sexual assault, abuse, and equality of rights. Nottage has been known to write very deep, modern pieces, but I think that this one stands out because the plot is so unrealistic, but so relatable.

The play starts off in a kitchen setting, with the plot happening in a span of ten minutes. There are three main characters being Sammuel, Louren, and Florence. A little background about these characters is, Samuel is the abusive husband, Louren being the abused wife, and Florence a friend and neighbor. With Samuel and Louren being in a relationship for awhile, Florence knows that samuel doesn’t treat Louren how she should be treated. Samuel starts off the play by screaming at Louren. Louren gets tired of Samuel’s abuse and manipulation, damned him to hell. As she damned him to hell, there was a combustion causing a flash of smoke to disappear. As Louren looked up from the flash, she finds a pile of ashes taking Samuel’s place. At first of course Louren finds it as a joke not knowing what she did. Louren got her wish, and turned Samuel into a pile of ashes. She calls Florence in a panic and not knowing how to explain what just happened. Florence arrives at the scene just thinking that Louren just burned something in the oven. Louren makes Florence dial 911 in a rush to solve the accident.

As the phone was ringing Louren tells Florence that she thinks she killed Samuel. Quickly hanging up the phone Florence doesn’t know the the true extent of the situation. Explaining what happened to Florence, “No…he exploded. Boom! Right in front of me. He was shouting like he does, being all colored, then he raised up that big crusty hand to hit me, and poof, he was gone…I barely got words out and I’m looking down at a pile of ash.” (“Poof.”2004, Page 8) Florence not knowing what just happened, “No, stop it, I don’t have time for this. I’m going back upstairs. You know how Samuel hates to find me here when he gets home. You’re not going to get me this time. (Louder:) Y’all can have your little joke, I’m not part of it! (A moment. She takes a hard look into LOUREEN’s eyes; she squints:) Did you really do it this time?” (“Poof.” 2004, page 6) They start arguing over nonsense because they are so scared of the outcome of this situation. They start cleaning with a broom and dustpan. The play finishes off by them coming together, and realizing that the negative space is out of their lives.

This play focuses on a deep subject of abuse and a world of negativity, but with the unrealistic gesture, and diction between the characters make this story kind of comical. I think that Nottage was trying to reach at everyone has something that comes up that we wish could make disappear. We can’t just make something go away that we have to face. Also to be careful about what you wish for, because something that you might want, isn’t what you need. Not in this case, Louren needed to get out of that toxic relationship, but sometimes we can’t just get rid of a problem that easily. Nottage’s main theme of this story was to make us think about what we want, and what we need. This play is a very out there piece, and that’s why people like it so much. The language between the characters, and the unexpected twist really made this play a lot easier to read, over plays that are just about darkness. It also helped that there was some “strong language” in this play. I know that high schoolers usually don’t like reading pieces for class, but all of these different factors of this play make it really enjoyable.

Tying back into the first story, these two pieces have a lot of underlying messages in common:
Both of these authors took huge risks in writing these. Frost and Nottage are both extremely confident writers that used their platform that people usually people don’t talk about being, life’s outcomes, and female empowerment. These writers both have a unique background and different writing styles, but it is very neat to see these type if stories from all types of writers. These two writer have a more known writing line because both of them aren’t scared about telling the truth in their work.
These two pieces both have the same underlying meaning, and that is, life has its obstacles but it’s up to us to learn how to handle them, and move on. In “ The Road Less Traveled”, the story was about Frost’s friend who basically can’t make up his mind about the decisions that he makes in his life, And in “Poof”, being scared of her new life after the accident. You can’t control what happens in your life, but you can control how you go on with your life afterwards.

They both have a unique way of getting their message across. Both of the stories similar messages but the way they come about it is different Frost coming off in a way that makes us think about what is going on, and Nottage in a more light way with humor that makes us get the story better. For me, reading a story with humor helps me understand the plot, tone, and the message the author is trying to persuade us into thinking.

Both of these stories have similar way of coming about things. I feel as if both of these stories intended people to think about the life that they are living, and if you’re doing something wrong, don’t be scared to try something new. These pieces do mean something to me, because I personally have trouble picking choices, and scared about the outcome. Reading these have helped me to think that people only live once, and they should live it with no fear or regret. They have also reminded me not to be so fixated on a certain outcome, but to just learn and move on from it.

These two pieces are hands down my favorite of the year, and probably from all my years of high school. Through this class I have learned to not only become a better student, but a better poet, journalist, and test taker. This english class has been my favorite english class through my school years, because we weren’t afraid to put our ideas out there, or creating discussion. All of the pieces we have read this year, i’ll carry them on to college (Go mean green). I think that have we had not read most of the stories we had this year, I wouldn’t have gotten as much out of the class. I also think that these two stories have so much in common, but people wouldn’t compare them. You have to go underneath the surface to find the true meaning behind each story out there.

Especially these two pieces have taught me a lot, and I think that that should be every teachers focus. To make sure the students learn valuable life lessons from their class, and I did just that by taking English 1301. As Frost and Nottage, i’m now not scared to share my ideas about different topics, and putting my opinion out there for others to see. The workshops have helped me getting over my fear about letting people read my work, but i’m happy that this class made me get out of my comfort zone.

Once again, these stories are very helpful for everyday life choices, and decisions that we all make. The authors really put effort into making us think about under the surface details. The two stories have a lot to do with decision making and how to do them better, and i think that us reading these pieces this year will help us get ready for college next year.

This has been a great senior year, and these two stories will come into handy in my years to come. “The Road Not Taken”, and “Poof have an interesting way of telling a story with a real meaning. I want to end my essay on a quote that sums up both stories. I’m not sure who wrote it, but it goes, “Life is so ironic, it takes sadness to know what happiness is, noise to appreciate silence, and absence to value presence.”

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Navigating Life's Choices: Lessons from 'The Road Not Taken' and 'Poof'. (2021, Apr 05). Retrieved from