Tabs Poetry Corner

They will not see me stopping here.

The other day Senior Managing Editor for Graphics Alison posted this meme in the Discord:

A Tex Avery cartoon wolf wearing a double-breasted suit with its eyes popping and tongue hanging out, with the caption “Robert Frost when two roads diverge in a yellow wood”

It’s funny, of course, but then yesterday The Atlantic’s “Time-Travel Thursdays” newsletter happened to be this capsule biography of Robert Frost, who, after dropping out of (or being expelled from) Dartmouth before the end of his first semester:

…worked a series of odd jobs—helping his mom in the classroom where she taught, writing for newspapers, tending to lamps in a textile mill. He didn’t stay in any of them for long.

Then his mother lost her job, and suddenly his family’s financial well-being rested on his shoulders. Around the same time, his sister, Jeanie, began to spiral into psychiatric distress. Frost turned to poetry.

As would anyone! When the chips are down, what’s a more certain money maker than poetry? It took a few more years but Frost would eventually be published in The Atlantic many times, the last time in 1962, about a year before his death, with the transcript of a speech he gave at the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, where he said: “you have to begin with something… you have to know what an idea is, in a joke or in a poem. You have to know how to make a point, to point up an idea.”

But the first time he was published in The Atlantic was in fact “The Road Not Taken.” It’s been a while since I read it, but there it is on The Atlantic’s website today, dateline: August, 1915. And I was surprised in revisiting it both how much shorter it was than I remembered, and how well Alison’s meme actually captures its essence:

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