“Zode in the Road” – A Fun Poem About “Dithering”

“Poetic Wednesday”

This is one of my all-time favorite poems. I have often used it in lots of talks and lessons.  

“Zode” is a fun poem with a profound message. “Zode” is about indecision, dithering, and the fear of taking a chance. This poem contrasts with Robert Frost’s famous poem about coming to a fork in the road.

The poet is unknown. I wrote to Dr. Seuss to ask if he was the poet, since it was similar to his style. He liked the poem, but denied being the writer.

(Like most poems, “Zode” is best read out loud using your best actor’s voice.)


Did I ever tell you about the young Zode
Who came to two signs at the fork of the road?
One said:     TO PLACE ONE, And the other: TO PLACE TWO.
So the Zode had to make up his mind what to do.
Well, the Zode scratched his head, and his chin, and his pants,
And he said to himself, “I’ll be taking a chance
If I go to Place One.  Now, that place may be hot!
And, so, how do I know if I’ll like it or not?
On the other hand, though, I’ll sort of be a fool
If I go to Place Two and find it too cool,
In that case I may catch a chill and turn blue!
So, maybe, Place One is the best.  Not Place Two.
On the other hand, though, if Place One is too high,
I may catch a terrible earache and die!
So place Two may be best! On the other hand though
What might happen if Place Two is too low?
I might get some very strange pain in my toe!
So Place One may be best.”  And he started to go.
Then he stopped.  And he said, “On the other hand, though,
On the other hand…other hand…other hand tough…!”
And for 36 hours and a half, that poor Zode
Made starts and stops at the fork in the road,
Saying, “Don’t take a chance. No, you may not be right.”
Then he got an idea that was wonderfully bright.
“Play safe,” cried the Zode, “I’ll play safe! I’m no dunce!
I’ll simply start off for both places at once!”
And that’s how the Zode, who would not take a chance,
Got to No Place at all — with a split in his pants.

                      –Author Unknown


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