Driving along the rural countryside of northeastern Itawamba County last autumn, I came upon a scene where the narrow paved road made a sharp bend into the colorful woods with another less traveled leaf-covered lane back in the shadows leading off to the west up a steep hill. I immediately thought of the great American poet, Robert Lee Frost.
I remember Frost from early childhood. My introduction to the poet was when I watched the television as the elderly white-haired poet recited his work, “The Gift Outright” at the Inauguration of President Kennedy on a windy January day in 1961. Then later in school, all the way through college, I was introduced to more and more of his works. His works always struck a special personal chord with me being that many of his poems depicted the farms, fields, hills and valleys of his rural surroundings – not unlike my own surroundings in the beautiful hills of northeastern Mississippi.
While viewing this bucolic peaceful scene in northeastern Itawamba County last autumn on that chilly morning, the following words from the mind and pen of Frost came to my mind:
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same.
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I--
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
The Road Not Taken, from the book Mountain Interval, Robert Lee Frost, 1916, H. Holt and Co.
Photograph of Fairview Church Road by Bob Franks