Saturday, June 2, 2012

Prompt #103 – Choice & Chance

I recently came across an old collection of Robert Frost’s poems that I haven’t looked at in many years. The weather was hot and humid (too hot and humid for this time of year), so instead of sitting outdoors in the gazebo, I sat inside with the AC on full blast and re-read the Frost poems. I’ve always loved “The Road Not Taken” for its symbolisms and universal appeal. This one of American literature's best known and most often quoted poems. There is, of course, much more to this poem than a surface understanding reveals.

For this week’s prompt, “The Road Not Taken” will be our inspiration poem. Before beginning, please give it a read. Click Here to Read "The Road Not Taken." As you read, note that one of the poem’s fascinations is its archetypal dilemma.  Be sure to note that the narrator looks back, reflects upon the meaning of choice and chance, and marks this decision as a defining moment in his life.

Ideas for writing:

Frost’s poem is about actual and figurative roads, and the fork in the path is an extended metaphor for making choices.

1. Write a poem about a metaphorical road that you didn’t take. Not the choice you made, but the one you didn’t. “Forks in the road” and “roads” seemed clichéd today, so be sure to create other symbolisms  and metaphors for making choices that are fresh and new.

2.  Write a poem about a “road not taken” in your life? Have you ever had to make a decision and then wondered much later how making the other choice might have impacted your life? Do you have any regrets?

3. Some analyses claim that Frost’s poem is about lost opportunities.  Write a poem about a lost opportunity in your life.

4. Write a poem about the complexities of choice making. How do you feel about choice and chance?

5. Write a poem about a time that you had no choice.



  1. Much to mull over with this prompt.

    I've always thought the Frost poem was more complex than it seems at first blush. If you follow the description, both paths looked about the same to the narrator. Frost himself said of this poem, "You have to be careful of that one; it's a tricky poem - very tricky." The sigh is interesting and maybe even misleading.” Is it a sigh of relief or regret?

    Thanks, as always, for poetry to think about through the week.


    P.S. I saw your sidebar post about the translation of "What Grief Comes To." Congrats to you and to Mr. Panciroli!

    1. You're right, Jamie, the poem is "tricky." Thanks for your comment and thanks for the congrats!

  2. Hi, Adele. I'm new to your site (the amazing Margo Roby pointed me your way, and I'm so glad.)
    Here's the link to my offering for this prompt:

    Thank you!

    De Jackson

  3. Welcome, De! It's nice to "meet" you here, and thanks so much for posting the link to your wonderful poem!

    1. A really nice poem, De! Thanks for sharing it with us.


  4. Coulda Beens

    Mom always regretted
    not marrying so & so
    I wouldn't have been
    had she
    Coulda beens
    Shoulda beens
    For my mom
    I shoulda been a
    great Jewish Mom
    Lighting Sabboth candles
    teaching Hebrew school
    I could have stayed
    not wandered the world
    Oh, world!
    Why did you
    tempt me

    1. Thanks for sharing your poem with us, Risa! I look forward to seeing your work, which has a very interesting and deceptive simplicity about it. I get the sense that there's much to read between the lines. Thanks again,


    2. Thanks for posting your poem, Risa! I agree with Jamie about the deceptive simplicity and more between the lines!

  5. Is it a true story?

    Just yesterday night ( and there was an amazing moon and the Coliseum stood high in the sky)

    I met an old " paramour"
    Her smile her dark eyes...
    Was it a choice or a chance?
    I embraced her
    I did not kiss her

    My wife tkanks

    1. Wonderful, Jago! I remember a night at the Colosseum when a friend and I stayed hidden inside until after dark and then spent hours in that immense silence with a full moon overhead. It was mystical - such a strong sense of time and the timeless.

  6. Excuse me, Adele, but you know, I am really lost in translation:
    Here the astonishing Webster Dictionary translations for "paramour"
    ( very old word, I think):

    Buona lettura!

    1. No worries, Jago! "Paramour" is still used, though probably not as much as it once was. The word fits your poem perfectly!

  7. Here's mine for this prompt:

    Great prompt, as always.

    1. Hi Annette! Thanks so much for sharing the link to your poem. I love the dismount:

      I buried the dream
      of living free
      in a canyon cottage;
      windows flung open
      to wind and rain and sun.
      Hay in my shoes.
      Grain in a bucket.
      Carrots in my pocket.

      Thanks again - I look forward to reading more of your poetry.