Tuesday, February 3, 2009

But I didn't go forward to the touch...

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The Snowy Night: image by Martin Stranka

Two lonely crossroads that themselves cross each other I have walked several times this winter without meeting or overtaking so much as a single person on foot or on runners. The practically unbroken conditions of both for several days after a snow or a blow proves that neither is much travelled.

Judge then how surprised I was the other evening as I came down one to see a man, who to my own unfamiliar eyes and in the dusk looked for all the world like myself, coming down the other, his approach to the point where our paths must intersect being so timed that unless one of us pulled up we must inevitably collide. I felt as if I was going to meet my own image in a slanting mirror. Or say I felt as we slowly converged on the same point with the same noiseless yet laborious strides as if we were two images about to float together with the uncrossing of someone's eyes. I verily expected to take up or absorb this other self and feel the stronger by the addition for the three-mile journey home.

But I didn't go forward to the touch. I stood still in wonderment and let him pass by; and that, too, with the fatal omission of not trying to find out by a comparison of lives and immediate and remote interests what could have brought us by crossing paths to the same point in the wilderness at the same moment of nightfall. Some purpose I doubt not, if we could but have made it out. I like a coincidence almost as well as an incongruity.

-Robert Frost, 1912, in a letter to his editor, Susan Ward

2 comments:

anne said...

What questions or comments would you have if you dared to stop and speak with "this other self"?

ConcordPastor said...

Great question, Anne!

But I think I'll need to save the response for a venue less public than my blog. An off-line responder found the Frost quote helpful and I hope you and others do, too.