[A simple definition of a mystic is one who seeks to experience God or the Transcendent. Many of the greatest mystics have shared some of those experiences through poetry. This is the first a series of posts to share a spiritual poem and several quotations that have to do with some of the great themes of mystical writers and saints. Carl Sandburg and Robert Frost are just two of what I call ‘merican Mystics. In this poem, Frost compares life to a journey and writes about a fundamental choice everyone has to make for him or herself. Where possible, I have embedded a video rendition of the featured poem. Your suggestions about other ‘merican Mystics are most welcome.]
The Road Not Taken
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 marked 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.
A good book has no ending.
I am one who has been acquainted with the night.
But I have promises to keep,
and miles to go before I sleep,
and miles to go before I sleep.
Don’t ever take a fence down until you know why it was put up.
I dwell with a strangely aching heart
In that vanished abode there far apart.
What we live by we die by.
Some say the world will end in fire,
Some say in ice.
From what I’ve tasted of desire
I hold with those who favor fire.
In three words I can sum up everything I’ve learned about life: it goes on.
PHOTO by Walter Albertin. Library of Congress. New York World-Telegram & Sun Collection. http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/cph.3c20740 courtesy of WikkimediaCommons]