Thursday, August 18, 2016

Then took the other, as just as fair

somewhere ages and ages hence

Whether to blog or just say the hell with it this morning? Choice, choosing is a challenge. Even decision by indecision, which lets things stand, is a choice. To attack or not, fight or walk away, love or not. Speak up or keep silent. Cast actively or passively. Tell all or keep my own confidence. Trivially for me this morning, photo with the moon’s trail on the Bay coming to my feet or with the red navigation light, choose. With the green navigation light my choice would have been made for me, but the red flashed instead.

Almost instinctively after these years, awareness of choosing takes me to my freshman year at Florida, fall 1953 or spring 1954, watching an elderly, white-haired poet on stage, the age I am now, listening as he reads “… I shall be telling this with a sigh Somewhere ages and ages hence: Two roads diverged in a wood, and I— I took …” And he captures me, heart and soul, for a lifetime. 

Googling and re-reading the poem took me off into the brambles again, which seems to be my customary thought process. I don’t remember reading this, and I don’t recall Robert Frost telling us this about the poem - -

"Frost spent the years 1912 to 1915 in England, where among his acquaintances was the writer Edward Thomas. Thomas and Frost became close friends and took many walks together. After Frost returned to New Hampshire in 1915, he sent Thomas an advance copy of "The Road Not Taken.” The poem was intended by Frost as a gentle mocking of indecision, particularly the indecision that Thomas had shown on their many walks together. Frost later expressed chagrin that most audiences took the poem more seriously than he had intended; in particular, Thomas took it seriously and personally, and it may have been the last straw in Thomas' decision to enlist in World War I. Thomas was killed two years later in the Battle of Arras."* 

So I google the Battle of Arras and spend part of the morning reading about it and chasing related links ad infinitum -> ->

The Anglo-Welsh lyric poet Edward Thomas was killed by a shell on April 9, 1917, during the first day of the Easter Offensive. Thomas's war diary gives a vivid and poignant picture of life on the Western front in the months leading up to the battle. Siegfried Sassoon makes reference to the battle in the poem “The General”.

The General
by Siegfried Sassoon

The General is a 1918 poem by the English soldier and poet Siegfried Sassoon published in Counter-Attack and Other Poems.

"Good morning, good morning," the general said,
When we met him last week on our way to the line.
Now the soldiers he smiled at are most of 'em dead,
And we're cursing his staff for incompetent swine.
"He's a cheery old card," muttered Harry to Jack
As they slogged up to Arras with rifle and pack.

But he did for them both by his plan of attack.

+++   +++

Aimless wandering reveals that Edward Thomas married Helen Noble, herself and with her younger daughter Myfanwy, a writer who put together “Under Storm’s Wing” comprising two earlier volumes reminiscencing about Edward, whom she called “Edwy”, and her letters to him, and memoirs of meetings with Robert Frost and others. On the possibility Helen Noble Thomas and her father James Noble could be related to my Linda Noble Peters Weller, whose Noble ancestry ties to Anniston, Alabama and back to Wales, part of this morning was as well invested exploring and choosing whether to order “Under Storm’s Wing,” posing yet another decision. Which takes me back round to Robert Frost and his tongue-in-cheek poem that I’ve always taken too seriously

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 decision to order a book has cost me hundreds and hundreds of dollars these years. In this case I may not choose.


* quote is from somewhere during my online rambling, maybe Wikipedia, I'm not sure, there was too much, too many links and places visited

pics from 7H: storm yesterday, moon pre-dawn this morning

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