I was never one who liked poetry much. Except for Robert Frost. I read him as a teenager when I was trying desperately to be cool and like poetry, and he was the only one who resonated. I liked that he talked about deep sh**, but that he still rhymed. It seemed then, and still does, like the mark of genius that his rhyming lines rarely sounded contrived, and still managed to convey such deep, clearly imaged ideas. After a few readings, the lines would get stuck in my head.
At the time (as an emo teenager) it was "Stopping By the Woods on a Snowy Evening" that most captivated me. The repeated line at the end, so powerful, haunted me for years, maybe haunts me still: "The woods are lovely, dark and deep, but I have promises to keep, and miles to go before I sleep, and miles to go before I sleep." The short jumble of words in this poem, it was the first time I'd really understood the power of literature. He managed to say what I felt so deep in my soul. He captured it on paper. In words I could repeat over and over.
Just last week I was thinking of "Fire and Ice," (when I was thinking about apocalyptic and dystopian literature) playing at trying to remember the lines, and finally lighting by memory upon the whole poem before looking it up on the internet. Residual memories, lines memorized a long time ago popping up again when I felt a particular emotion. So strange and awesome.
And today, the lines I couldn't get out of my head: "Two roads diverged in a yellow wood...." Over and over, like a mantra beating beneath my forehead. "Two roads diverged in a yellow wood, two roads diverged in a yellow wood, two roads diverged in a yellow wood..." I want to grab Robert Frost by the lapels and demand: but how the hell do you know which is the best f'ing road to take??? But alas, he is not here, and his lines, like ice, will suffice. At least so perfectly to portray the dilemma, if not offering any clear answer.