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The Path Not Taken

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Breana Genaro


Jody Cohen

7 Nov 2014

The Path Not Taken

            In The Morris woods behind the English House, there is a small path smothered in leaves and brush from the surrounding woods. The trail is narrow and serpentine, but has a clear beginning and end and everything in-between. The journey on the trail is far from dull. The trail takes its traveller through a journey of old trees and new grass, of dead leaves and growing berries, of singing birds and scurrying squirrels. The path in the woods is not unlike the average Bryn Mawr student’s ultimate journey. She will begin life somewhere totally different, either in location or state of mind, than where she began, and everything in-between, including her Bryn Mawr experience, will be apart of the journey. The journey may be rocky along the way, like the path in Morris woods. However, those rocks will tell a distinctive story, and is a connecting force between students.

            Many students don’t venture out into the Morris Woods, even though they are directly connected to campus. The woods can serve many purposes, they can provide exercise, a quiet place to study, or a place to simply sit and think in silence. However, the woods also serve as a metaphor for each Bryn Mawr student’s journey, whether she is of traditional age or not. The woods are not as easily accessible as many woods with a trail; the entrance to the trail is hidden by the English and Russian houses, and once you find the entrance to the trail, it may be confusing as to whether the trail is a trail or not. This confusion relates to the struggle many students face when trying to decide on their future. Every Bryn Mawr student had to decide to take that leap and attend a school like Bryn Mawr. For many, it may have been a hard decision to come to, similar to how the beginning of the trail can be somewhat difficult to find initially.

            Along the path in Morris woods, many rocks from various geologic rock formations are scattered around. Like many Bryn Mawr students, these rocks have been from different locations and have endured different types of weathering, or metamorphism. In order “To make a metamorphic rock / (well, there are a few paths, but here is one), / take a rock (a shale perhaps, a mudstone) / and leave it where continents collide” (8-11). This is true for both rocks and students, specifically in this poem, the McBride scholars. Some of the rocks on this path are millions of years old. Many started in the molten mantle of the earth. Some began as igneous rocks, cooling slowly in the magma chamber of a volcano, perhaps. Others may have began as a sedimentary rock, as apart of a mountain range undergoing extreme weathering and erosion. However, these rocks all underwent a similar, but not identical, circumstances. They all underwent extreme heat and pressure from a variety of sources. Some may have subducted into the earth at a mid-Atlantic fault. Some may have been compressed when two continental plates converged, as the poem suggests. Despite the journey, the rocks become one rock type, and still remained characteristics of their protolithic rock.

            Bryn Mawr students share many characteristics with the metamorphic rocks on the trail in Morris woods. Like the rocks, the students come from all over the world and are many different ages, like the Mcbrides. All the students undergo different struggles and underwent different decisions when deciding to begin their journey at Bryn Mawr. Once each student arrived at Bryn Mawr, she has already began metamorphosing into her own unique rock. However, as she begins her Bryn Mawr journey, she will change into a strong and detailed rock. Unlike other students and much like rocks “when you hold it in your hand, / and if you know how to read a rock, / then what you’ll see is this: What it was. Where it’s been. What fires / it’s seen.” (35-38). Bryn Mawr students are different and unique. Bryn Mawr students are not easily breakable, but have each been through different struggles and experiences. Like metamorphic rocks, Bryn Mawr students can be read. However, it is not easy. Like the poem suggests, one needs to know how to read her before he or she can understand her history.

            The environment of Morris Woods relates to past and present Bryn Mawr students through metaphors between the paths and the rocks found on the paths and the journey that each Bryn Mawr student will take once she begins studying here. The winding and narrow path represents her bold decisions and daring character, when the metamorphic rocks represents her past and inner struggles and the changes she will endure throughout her four years here and then later throughout life. The local environment off-campus is very relevant to student’s lives on-campus.