“The Road not Taken” – Poems As a Mirror to the Soul – Part 1 of My Reflections on Poetry

Recently, in just a moment of my life, when I forgot time, in some minutes, that somehow concentrated a lifetime, on a long trainride I met somebody who writes poems and we started to talk about poetry. She asked me, which poets I like. I couldn’t answer spontaneously and many days later I found out why. I like poems but do not pick them out because of the poets at first. I like poems that reach my heart and touch my soul, that reflect my longing and give answers to my questions. I do not only share the surname with Martin Heidegger, but would define myself also as an existentialist. What you are and think is always a matter of one’s existence. Back home, many days later, I took up her question on poetry and looked up some poems that have been a kind of mirror to my soul. There is for instance a well-known poem by Robert Frost that I have been familia with since my days in school. At the end of the year and at the beginning of a new one this one fits to the season and to my sometime lonely walks in the woods.

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.

My feelings already start with the title of the poem: “The road not taken …” I look at so many decisions in my life – my own ones or people who made decisions I had to accept – and with a “sigh” I look down some roads and where they could have meant a life with some happiness. But “the road was not taken”. I look at so many gates that are closed and I just can’t take a road I’d like to go. But I also look back at roads that have filled my heart with joy and gratefulness, even when they have come to an end. To take the road of happiness is not only a matter of one’s decision and will, but it is most of all a matter of the people I meet – or in  a deeper sense, the experience of God and the angels on my way.

Klaus.heidegger 28.12.2022

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