Thursday, April 06, 2006

Roads not taken *

there are certain streets
i choose not to walk by.
there are moments when
i forget i have to cry.

these twisting roads, these paths they yield,
i know only too well.
my memory fails, my heart does not feel,
why, i cannot quite tell.

the shadows here hide
ghosts from yesterday.
should i stop? take a side?
or should i just walk away?

the walls and the corners speak
of stories i can't silence.
the pretense leaves me weak,
the guilt stains my innocence.

i know where every right
will lead, and where, every left.
where logic, with all its might,
will succeed, leaving emotion in debt.

so, do i paint the rainbow
with the colour from my bleeding hands?
or, knowing what i know,
leave these trails for better lands?

these are streets
i cannot walk by.
these are times
when i will not cry.

* - The title is inspired by Robert Frost's The Road Not Taken. With all due apologies to the poet.


catch 22 said...

"so, do i paint the rainbow
with the colour from my bleeding hands?
or, knowing what i know,
leave these trails for better lands?"

I loved these lines.

musafir said...

@ catch22: :) ... and what do you want them to mean?

catch 22 said...

As I see them , these lines do represent a choice. Are you asking me what choice wud I have made ?

musafir said...

@ catch22: No, no -- I was curious to know your interpretation. As in, yes, it's about a choice, but to me, it's more about the predicament behind the choice. Anyway, I'm just bored at work, don't pay attention to me, especially in the comments section :)

catch 22 said...

Predicament ? Well you can say that I guess. And yes I have already made the choice.

Karthik said...

Hmm !! I always have a problem with Frost's poem !! When he says -"I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference " - this is where i think !! In life all roads are the same, each has it's own share of potholes, pavements and what not !! And in the end, the distance travelled is what matters and not the road u choose !! Wish frost was Alive today !!

catch 22 said...

@ Karthik - "In life all roads are the same, each has it's own share of potholes, pavements and what not !!" . How can u say that all roads are same, I say that each road is unique in the number of potholes it has, in the number of pavements, in the number people taking that road, the company u get and yeah what not. Nope I don believe in All roads lead to rome stuff, the road u take will determine the place u reach and hence it makes a lot of sense when he says "When he says -"I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference "

musafir said...

@ karthik and catch22: Personally, Frost never claims anything in his poem. And what's amusing is, the road as in "The Road Not Taken" could actually mean the road he eventually did not take, rather than the road he took!

To me, the poem does not ask one to take the road less travelled by. For very early in the poem, Frost makes it clear that there is nothing to choose between the two, when he says, "Then took the other, as just as fair,". There is a definite element of confusion as Frost tries to reason out which one to take, much like a lot of us today, as we ponder over how best to live our lives. And then, as he takes one of these roads, there is this feeling of longing since he knows he can't come back. So he is describing his predicament rather than preaching -- the predicament that much as he would like to explore both the roads, Life does not permit him to. And even when he takes one of the roads, he is painfully aware that this very choice is going to shape his Life.

Finally, when he says, "And that has made all the difference", he does not mean that by taking the road less travelled by, he has been more/less succesful in Life. All he means is that the whole of his journey from thereon has been shaped by that choice he had to make at that fork, and that the journey could well have been very different if he'd taken the other road.

To sum up, the poem speaks of the eternal confusion that faces us as we try to choose between two things which don't clearly differentiate themslves. It doesn't advise us to take the less conventional path in life, as people generally believe.

And as for the roads and potholes thing, I agree aprtially. All roads are same, as in each road lets you discover life as you travel through it. And the roads themselves are different in the kind of challenges that they pose.

@ karthik: When he says "And that has made all the difference" he is talking about the distance rather than the end point.

@catch22: All roads do lead to Rome, depending on how you define Rome. To me rome is discovering Life, and I believe all roads do lead to it.

Karthik said...

Hmm .. Beauty of any poem lies in the fact that it's open to any interpretation !!

@ Catch 22 - Buddy, in Life All roads do lead to the same destination !! See basically ur life is not dependant upon the way u travel, but how u travel in that way. As Rajesh says rightly - it all depends on how u define ur end goal !! And if u are clear about ur end goals, and have an open mind, all roads are the same. In some roads, u may find the path easy going and encounter difficulties later, while in the other it may be difficult first and easy later !! And abt the people u meet, there are plenty and plenty of interesting people and philosophically speaking- if u are destined to meet someone, u will surely meet them - in whatever however way u travel !!So my point is - The distance is what matters and the path - well it's basically in ur mind !!

@Rajesh - Maybe what u say is right !! But rite from my school days, my teacher told me that this poem means - travel the path less taken !!And the last para - makes it sound as though he is (un)happy with his decision - taking it to the next level - for all u know, he maybe convincing himself, that his choice was right(wrong) !! When he says - "I shall be telling this with a sigh", i think he was a failure in life !! Difference can be positive or negative :) :) !! Maybe i am getting too cynical, but dont think frost is advocating the principle of - journey-matters-not-the-destination !!

Btw, do i know CAtch 22 ?? And this is my biggest comment so far in Blogger !!

musafir said...

@ karthik: "Btw, do i know CAtch 22 ??" -- take a guess :)

And yes, I feel you're being a bit harsh on the poet. He writes, we interpret. As for being a success or a failure in Life, I've always believed that's a personal issue and it doesn't matter what others think. So, only Frost -- may his soul rest in peace -- can answer that.

And I'm not saying that Frost, at least primarily, is arguing that the journey is more beautiful. To me, the human element in the poem, of being confused, of being forced to choose without any knowledge of the future, of the pain that lies behind being forced to choose, and finally of the hope and the feeling of resignation that one carries after having made the choice, are what make the poem endearing.

And yes, long comments are a long-standing custom on this blog :)

Karthik said...

@Rajesh - Agreed da, it's a great poem !! Everyone at some or other stage of their lives would have encountered two roads - and they generally end up choosing one !! The human mind is such a great confusing machine, that at difficult times, it taunts u, creates self doubts and tried to impress upon u that the choice u made is wrong !! But seldom do we realise that the other choice is also filled with hardships, difficulties etc !! Maybe the grass on the other side is always Green !! And when u are on a low, it's dark green !!

who is Catch 22 - Hmm !! There were too many people in SRM da !! Age 23 - Occupation - Software Engineer doesn't provide a great many number of clues !! Hmm !!! It can be just abt anyone !! Konjam help pannu da !! Am getting older and my memory aint getting any better - Also this S/w job has made me more duller than ever b4 !!(As though i was the brightest person around !!)

Languorous_chaos said...



walking away
looking on

a choice
many choices
free will


musafir said...

@ karthik: " And when u are on a low, it's dark green !!" -- haha. dei podhum da.

As for catch22, let me just say that you do know him quite well :P.

@ languorous_chaos: Wise words :), and yeah, problems!

Been there, done that huh?

Languorous_chaos said...

No just starting!

oh and modify "free will" to "qualified free will"...there are only so many choices you're offered,right?;)

musafir said...

@languorous_chaos: Hmm, "qualified free will" ... I think I will agree to that broadly. Because at every point in Life, you do have the choice to throw it all away and start down that road you were afraid to embark upon. But to put a pragmatic spin to that, I do understand that there are certain things you can never rewind, certain things which will pass you forever ... so yeah, "qualified free will" it is :)

darkness said...

Ghosts from yesterday...
they really haunt!!

musafir said...

@ darkness: :) ... if only you could exorcise them!

Prat said...

you write wonderfully well.

musafir said...

@ prat: Thanks :)