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RAMBLINGS: POETRY

A small but growing collection of travel-related poetry. Please Contact Us and use this space to share your favourite poetry

Barry and Margaret Williamson

January 2014

Kaleidoscope 

 

Margaret recalls a favourite song from her student days in 1968 – words and music by American poet and singer Rod McKuen.

Come with me, what wonders we'll find,
The ducks on the millpond that swim in the mind.
Come with me, together we'll go,
Where buttercups shoot through the roof of the snow.
And many the sights that we'll see.
I'll look in your eyes and see me.

Chorus: K, I, Kaleidoscope
Love is another color for hope.
Pain is a separate color from joy,
How many colors there are to enjoy.

Come with me, through valleys of green
We'll live like the mud lark deep down in a dream,
Come with me, take hold of my hand
I'll walk you past panthers asleep in the sand,
How lucky some people will be
To look in our eyes and see we.

Chorus

Come with me, stay close by my side
The road is so rocky, the world is so wide,
Come with me, and we will go far
Far is forever, wherever we are
How wise is our world and how new,
You'll look in my eyes and see you.

 

Chorus 

Stone Arise!

Written by the Croatian poet, Vesna Parun, and translated and sent to us by Verica Peacock, this poem was published by a Croatian newspaper to celebrate the July 2004 re-opening of the bridge over the River Neretva in Mostar, Bosnia-Hercegovina. The original Turkish bridge, built in 1566, was destroyed by Croat shelling in November 1993.

Wake up, stone, gild the skies!

Our old bridge from ashes returns.

Neretva, river of green eyes, open them wide, stop!

This July day should be your holiday, starry balm on your wound.

Since Neretva flowed in ancient times, it has never been known

that man perishes, stone resurrects, and a heart beats in stone.

Start swimming, swan, flower long-necked, a playful wave escort you to its source.

0h, arise, stone, from dust return!

While you were falling we knew: from the dead you would rise!

 

Robert Louis Stevenson

The following poem was suggested by Ken Norris of England. He writes:

Recently I've been asked by various groups to talk to them about our travels. I entitle them "Traveller or Tourist?" and try to add humour by recounting the funny incidents which we seem to encounter on many of our journeys. People often ask how I developed my Wanderlust, and I tell them of two inspirational teachers and an author, all of whom I hold responsible.

The author is Robert Louis Stevenson, and we're off to pay my respects. After an obligatory stop over at LA (I'd promised to stay out of the USA until their Immigration Service treated us a friends rather than suspected terrorists), we fly to Raritonga and Aiutaki in the Cook Islands , then to Nadi in Fiji which we use as a base for triangular flights to Nuku'alofa in Tonga and onwards to Apia in Samoa, where we stay at Aggie Grey's hotel, (shades of James Mitchener), While there, we hope we shall be fit enough to walk up the local mountain to visit RLS's grave. This is the spot where his famous poem is inscribed on his headstone,

Under the wide and starry sky, dig the grave and let me lie,

Glad did I live and gladly die, and I laid me down with a will.

This is the verse you grave for me, Here he lies where he longed to be.

Home is the sailor, home from the sea, and the hunter home from the hill.

It was RLS who inspired much of my interest in exploration, and who once commented to the effect "Give me a map and I'm a happy man", which is exactly my own experience.

Robert Service

Patricia Bird, an English motorhomer writs that she saw this quote from a poem by Robert Service in a motorhome magazine and thinks that 'perhaps it fits us wanderers'. We are sure it does!

There is a race of men that wont fit in,

They always tire of the things that are

And they long for the strange and new.

Irish Prayer

May the road rise to meet you

May the wind be always at your back

May the sun shine warm upon your face

The rains fall soft upon your fields and, until we meet again,

May God hold you in the palm of his hand.

(As a cyclist, Margaret particularly likes the second line)

The Thin Place

"The old man looks out to the island. He says this place is endless thin

There's no real distance here to mention. We might all fall in, all fall in

No distance to the spirits of the living. No distance to the spirits of the dead

And as he turned his eyes were shining. And he proudly said

Feel so near to the howling of the wind. Feel so near to the crashing of the waves

Feel so near to the flowers in the field. Feel so near."

(From Ian Inglis, Balquhidder, Scotland)

Rest up, Rest up

"Hang your hat on the peg  Rest up, rest up

Fling your coat on the bed  For you have travelled many miles to see me.

Put your feet on the bench  Rest up, rest up

Heave of your heavy boots  For you have come through winter days to see me. 

Settle down by the fire  Rest up, rest up

Lean back and smile at me  For after all this time and travelling

Oh traveller, I'm glad to see you."

(By Jenny Joseph and a favourite of Ian Inglis, Balquhidder, Scotland)

On Being Alive

"No watch, no date, no days, only time . . . . time

To listen to tropical rain on tin roofs, to crickets, birdsong and bullfrogs

To talk to machete-wielding creole youngsters cutting down grass in rain gutters

To see armies of ants destroying trees in order to build their nests and fireflies lighting the way home

To feel the warmth of the people, the breeze, the sweat from tropical heat

To be reassured of man's innate goodness towards fellow man

To think. To dream. To be. To live."

(Written by Keith Durham, Cuba 1998)

Voyage to Greece

"The sea was sapphire coloured, and the sky /Burned like a heated opal through the air;

We hoisted sail; the wind was blowing fair /For the blue lands that to the eastward lie.

From the steep prow I marked with quickening eye /Zakynthos, every olive grove and creek,

Ithaka's cliff, Lycaon's snowy peak /And all the flower-strewn hills of Arcady.

The flapping of the sail against the mast, /The ripple of the water on the side,

The ripple of girls' laughter at the stern /The only sounds - when 'gan the West to burn,

And a red sun upon the seas to ride. /I stood upon the soil of Greece at last!"

(Oscar Wilde, Impression de Voyage)

Chinese Poem

"Long, long must be our parting; I was not destined to tell you thoughts.

I stood on tiptoe gazing into the distance, Interminably gazing at the road that had taken you.

With thoughts of you my mind is obsessed; In my dreams I see the light of your face.

Now you are started on your long journey, Each day brings you further from me.

Oh, that I had a bird's wings And high flying could follow you."

Superstition

"Souls there are that for soul's affright, Bow down and cower in the sun's glad sight

Clothed round with faith that is one with fear And dark with doubt of the live world's light."

(Algernon Swinburne)

Ithaca

"Pray that your journey may be long, That many may those summer months be,

When with what pleasure, what untold delight, You enter harbours never seen before."

(C P Cavafy)

To His Coy Mistress

"Had we but world enough, and time, This coyness, lady, were no crime. . . .

But at my back I always hear Time's wingéd chariot hurrying near;

And yonder all before us lie Deserts of vast eternity . . .

The grave's a fine and private place, But none, I think, do there embrace.

Had we but world enough, and time This coyness, lady, were no crime.

We would sit down, and think which way To walk, and pass our long love's day.

Thou by the Indian Ganges' side Shouldst rubies find; I by the tide

Of Humber would complain. I would Love you ten years before the flood

And you should, if you please, refuse Till the conversion of the Jews."

(Andrew Marvell)

The Odyssey 

"And then went down to the ship,

Set keel to breakers, forth on the godly sea, and

We set up mast and sail on that swart ship,

Bore sheep aboard her, and our bodies also

Heavy with weeping, so winds from sternward

Bore us out onward with bellying canvas,

Circe's this craft, the trim-coiffed goddess.

Then sat we amidships, wind jamming the tiller,

Thus with stretched sail, we went over sea till day's end.

Sun to his slumber, shadows o'er all the ocean."

(Lewis Owen sent this touch of the Odyssey - it's the opening of Ezra Pound's first Pisan Canto)

Spring Morning

"Light as the touch of angel fingers the tiny weight of a blackbird

sheds an ancient branch of its snow.

At this harp string's pluck the whole forest quivers.

Together, we throw back our heads and pitch our song clearly

into creation's rising chorus."

(Rev Murdoch and Dr Anne MacKenzie from Scotland sent this poem by their friend, Stephen Eric Smyth)

Road Works

"Silently I climb the hills of my life, alone but not lonely, trying to find out who I am

Why I'm here on this particular track of the space/time continuum

And if there is a going back and a going forward, are they the same?

Perpetual revolution. The wheels turn and I turn. Everything changes yet I remain the same, trapped in the box I call 'me'

The labels and structures of my identity… Awareness and physical reality are so different. Inside the box I can dream

On the road, sensation gives purpose, contact. Something to do, somewhere to go People to meet

Where are they? All the people who love and care and understand? Do they know I'm here? Do they listen?

Are they inside or outside of me? To touch without contact,

To talk without conversation, To do without action: These are my fears. The wasteland of hope

Have I found what I'm looking for? Is it there all the time in the subliminal messages?

The feelings that won't go away? I need a response from someone other than me.

In my search for freedom I have stretched the meaning of loneliness to its limit

Am I just a rag doll tied to the wheel of life? Always the next journey

Never the coming home.

(Written by Eve Williamson, Christmas 1995)