EV 1487 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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EV 1487

Enigmatic Variations 1487

Difference by Chalicea

Setter’s Blog

The generated instruction is SHADE POET, TITLE AND THE ROAD HE TOOK; Extra words are from (The) ROAD NOT TAKEN by ROBERT FROST, highlighted along with (The) ONE LESS TRAVELED BY.


I have, for a long time loved the poetry of one of America’s best-known poets, Robert Frost, often called the ‘Farmer Poet’ though in fact he spent only ten years of his life farming and was a professor at a range of US universities, as well as winning four Pulitzer prizes for his poetry.

“Good fences make good neighbours” is often quoted but it is ‘The Road Not Taken’ that comes to mind when we are walking in our own ‘yellow’ autumn woods and come to a junction in the track. Frost’s poetry uses a conversational tone, as if he were there in front of us recounting his decision to take “the one less travelled by – because it was grassy and wanted wear; though, as for that the passing there had worn them really about the same.”

He tells us “I doubted if I should ever come back” and that taking the one “less travelled by, – has made all the difference”. Of course, the entire poem is interpreted by critics as a metaphor for choices in life with the implication that, as in the film ‘Sliding Doors’, one small incident or decision can lead us into a totally different life path. I wonder what alternative route Frost might have followed. Certainly, his fans are happy that he took the “one less travelled by”.

The poem has been on my list of potential crossword themes for years, and creating the grid with ROBERT FROST as a generous hint to solvers and the ROAD NOT TAKEN was straightforward, though it was slightly more difficult to fit in an unambiguous winding ONE LESS TRAVELLED BY.

The setter is always faced with the difficult choice of device to convey an instruction. Do I just spell it out in the preamble, or use one of the rather ‘well-travelled’ routes of corrected misprint letters, extra letters in wordplay, or initial letters of extra words in the clues? (That one was banned by James Leonard, the original creator of the Enigmatic Variations series as it was over-used, he felt.)

I decided to attempt ‘one less travelled by’, creating my own ‘Difference’ by using the initial letters of thirty words that flanked words extracted from the poem, to instruct solvers what to highlight. My compilations are usually regarded as ‘gentle’. I hope that device didn’t add too much difficulty and that solvers were able to be reminded of a delightful poem.


A full review of this puzzle can be seen over on fifteensquared.


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