In 1912, poet Robert Frost (1874-1963) and his family moved to England. His writing career was not happening in the United States, and a flip of a coin made the decision for England instead of Canada. He was in England for only a short time when a British publisher offered a contract. The resulting book caught the attention of a British poet and literary journalist, Edward Thomas, and Frost and Thomas became good friends.
They often took walks in the countryside together, and Frost was often amused by his friend’s indecision as to which walking route to take, and then to regret the one chosen. Frost later sent Thomas a poem, entitled “Two Roads,” which Frost thought of as a kind of joke about Thomas’s indecision and a parody on the romantic imagination. For his part, Thomas seemed not to realize it was meant as a joke, and took it quite seriously, as the exchange of letters between the two indicates.
Thomas eventually enlisted in the British Army, and died in 1917 in France. Today he’s known as one of the “World War I poets.” Frost went on to become, more than anyone else, the “American Poet.” And his poem, “Two Roads,” was renamed, and became “The Road Not Taken,” perhaps the best known American poem of the 20th century, and perhaps the best known American poem, period.
To continue reading, please see my post today at Tweetspeak Poetry.
Photograph: Robert Frost about the time he wrote “The Road Not Taken.”