The Road Not Taken

Last week in the archives, we received a very special package from one of our donors. Although he had been sending along items from his family’s collection for several months, this time he included a little something extra — a note written to a poet in the family from Robert Frost. Written in 1916, Frost was complimenting the gentleman on his recent publication – a book of poetry about the Stillwater River area and life in southwestern Ohio. Frost noted specifically two poems from the book as ones he particularly liked.

Can you imagine getting complimented on your poetry by Robert Frost? Astounding! So as I sat holding this treasure, documenting its arrival in the archives, my mind wandered back to some of my favorite works by Frost. And with autumn’s arrival, I have to share one of my favorite fall poems by Frost. And if you are interested, the Poetry Foundation has the audio of Frost reading this poem, which gives it an extra special touch as well.

The Road Not Taken
By Robert Frost
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.

What are some of your favorite poems of fall?


Filed under Archives, Reading

5 responses to “The Road Not Taken

  1. Hmm. . . I’d have to think on that. I like a variety of poems but can’t think of any that are fall specific.

  2. I was never very interested in poetry, but yes, it would definitely be awesome to get a compliment on one’s poetry from Robert Frost. Now I’m curious about these Stillwater River poems…

    • Lisa,

      The Stillwater poems are intriguing ones. Paul Shivell was the author, writing several books about the Stillwater area. The one Frost was commenting on is actually available in Google books:

      He also wrote a number of poems on the person and work of Jane Reece, a friend of the Shivell family. We’re putting together an exhibit of the two artists for next spring!

      • Paul (Shivell) is my Granduncle and I would be Most interested in making contact w/ whomever it was that made the original submission(s) AND / OR ask about the possibility of acquiring a copies (??) of the submissions. I do know that much of his ‘materials/personal correspondence/etc’ is held by the Univ of Ore – but have not been able to ‘make the trip’ there myself. Thx You – for any consideration & assistance in this – jts

        • Hi John – Fascinating connection! I’m so glad you posted. The Shivell materials I reference are located in Special Collections and Archives at Wright State University, where I worked until last year. You can see the finding aid/inventory to the collection here:
          Contact information for the archives is listed on their website at:

          The materials are interesting, and the portraits done by Jane Reece are fascinating. There are beautiful pictures of Paul and his family, including several of his daughter at many stages of her life, and some gorgeous photographic studies of his hands. Beautiful work!

          Hope you are able to connect with this material!

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