To Be or Not to Be
"To be or not to be, that is the question." Shakespeare's infamous line illustrates one of the most important aspects of poetry, essence over meaning. Many literary critics believe that a good poem must not only give a meaning, but also give an experience as well. Archibald MacLeish states in his poem "Ars Poetica" that "A poem should not mean/ But be." MacLeish's assertion demonstrates the view of many writers that poetry must have essence in order to be great. Robert Frost's, "The Road Not Taken," demonstrates a poem in which a meaning is given, as well as an essence, which provokes an experience that appeals to the senses.
Robert Frost includes both a literal meaning as well as a sensual experience in his poem "The Road Not Taken." At face value, the poem merely describes a person in the woods that comes upon a fork in the road and must decide which road to take.
The speaker states that he or she takes the road with less wear on it and hopes to come back one day and take the other path as well to explore what is also has to offer. Traveling down the less worn path however, the traveler knows that he probably will never be able to come back and explore the other path. By the end of the poem, the traveler states that he or she took the path less traveled by, and "it has made all the difference," suggesting that the path less traveled by led to some place different than the other path. Frost's scenario can be seen as the literal meaning of the poem. The author, however, does not stop at literal meaning, and achieves greatness according to "Ars Poetica...