I have been thinking to myself a lot “the way out is through,” and I got to wondering who said it originally. And there, in a pile of inspirational quotes, was “The best way out is always through” attributed to motherfucking Robert Frost.
If you know Robert Frost, you know why I say “motherfucking Robert Frost.”
Robert Frost is like king of the pithy quotes that, when taken out of context, seem, yes, inspirational and wise. You know Robert Frost only two lines at a time, you think Robert Frost is some sweet old New England farmer handing out gentle wisdom while leaning on his hoe, overlooking his lovingly tended garden.
“Oh, Mr. Frost, I seem to be tangled up in your blackberries, which also may be a metaphor for my life!”
“I see that, girl. But just keep coming toward the sound of my voice. ‘The best way out is always through.'”
“I’m free! Oh, thank you, thank you, Mr. Frost.”
“I don’t have time for gratitude. I have to help this person trying to make a big life decision decide which path in a metaphorical woods he should take.”
That’s never how a Robert Frost poem goes in real life, though. They’re always sad, someone is always missing a connection with another person or about to.
And thus it is with “A Servant to Servants.”
I’m still going to think of that phrase, but it feels maybe a lot more honest and a little less inspirational to know that the speaker of the poem feels rather ambiguous about it. As you do, when you’re thinking about your crazy uncle locked in a cage in the barn.