April Is National Poetry Month! Read Poems by Robert Frost, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and More In 'The Atlantic'

While April 1 is usually associated with good-spirited trickery and the early signs of spring, it also marks the beginning of National Poetry Month. Introduced by the Academy of American Poets in 1996 to increase the appreciation of poetry in the United States, President Bill Clinton declared in a Presidential Proclamation that "we need more artists to imagine the best future for us and remind us what is good and constant in our past."


The Atlantic has a long tradition of supporting great poetry. In our first issue in November 1857, the magazine featured verse by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, John Greenleaf Whittier, and the great essayist and father of transcendentalism Ralph Waldo Emerson, including four poems—"Brahma," "The Rommany Girl," "The Chartist's Complaint," and "Days—by Emerson. 

To celebrate the start of National Poetry Month 2011, we've excerpted Robert Frost's famous poem "The Road Not Taken," which appeared in the August 1915 issue of The Atlantic before being published in the 1916 collection Mountain Interval:


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.


Throughout April, we'll be featuring poems from The Atlantic's archives in celebration of National Poetry Month. Feel free to tweet us some of your favorite poems @TheAtlantic with the hashtag #NationalPoetryMonth.

Presented by

Jared Keller is a former associate editor for The Atlantic and The Atlantic Wire and has also written for Lapham's Quarterly's Deja Vu blog, National Journal's The Hotline, Boston's Weekly Dig, and Preservation magazine. 

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