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 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.

~ Robert Frost

A Pseudo-Screwtape Epistle: Poetic-Autobiographic Fragment #3

My dearest Wormwood,

Nothing tickles my gut more than to hear that the patient is wandering and searching for distinct meaning in his life. Your last letter is a promising cry to help the needy one. Alas, hope has sprung for us, where the grass is greener on this side of the fence. Truly, this is a tremendous opportunity to stray him from the Way he has aimlessly followed during yesterdays’ tense. Your patient is weak and frail. Bitterness betrays him.

You said in your last letter that the patient has turned his back on his so-called Shepherd. It is now time to deliver the goods to your man, so we will finally begin yielding the fruits of your labor. It will be good for him to finally see his former Life, his former Way, and his previous Truth as we see it–the Enemy.

Your patient’s hands are greased with delightful greed, patiently yet reluctantly waiting for the fasted hands to fill it. Though it will be breezy for you to caress his heart with confidence he is doing just as well on his own, the Enemy will be sure to seek him from every cornered angle, all-knowing precisely what it will take to return him home.

It pains my jagged jaws to number the times the Enemy has warned your patient with exclamatory inclusiveness, concerning the specificity of situations such as this. Be that as it may, you must take numerous disguises upon yourself, yet none of the ones the Enemy has forewarned your patient about.

Your Infectionate Uncle,
Screwtape


Twenty-One: A Poetic-Autobiographic Fragment

TWENTY-ONE

Here I somberly rest my tainted woes
Against this thoughtful bed,
As she coldly sits desperately torturing herself
Inside my beating head.
Her troubling thoughts of careless confusion
Misguide myself backward,
Stumbling into a day numerically twenty-one ago.
A familiar time and place, though seemingly awkward.
Carefully I caress my bitterly naive heart, lately severed hollow,
While she hopelessly hollers, “How could I have been such a cold-hearted fool?”
As she pounds her rigid head against the weakening walls of my ceding skull.
Spared with nearly ten till the ripened age of twenty-one,
And severely sickened by the intense question
Of the flaunting heart of a loved one,
I tie the final end of the noose around this God-forsaken game,
Whispering blatantly to the vivid voice sheltered by arrogant shame,
“It’s too late to forgive the ungiving!”
Sorrowfully sobbing goodbye…to a lonesome life wasted on living,
I tearfully embrace the welcoming face of the twenty-two,
Ironically the number of days, I’d kill to taste, for one last day loving
You.

JT Caldwell [12 years ago: B.C.]

IF

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you
But make allowance for their doubting too,
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:If you can dream–and not make dreams your master,
If you can think–and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it all on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breath a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: “Hold on!”

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with kings–nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you;
If all men count with you, but none too much,
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And–which is more–you’ll be a Man, my son!

— Rudyard Kipling