Saturday, July 31, 2010

Poetry Prompt #16 - Journeys

It's been said that we travel to lose ourselves, and that we travel to find ourselves. Proust wrote, "The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes." What does "travel" mean to you in terms of wonder, discovery, and self-revelation? Has a journey in your life given you "new eyes?"

Write a poem in which you travel: the journey may be real, imagined, emotional, or spiritual. You may take an "overland trip" through description, attention to details, and sensory perceptions, or you may lead readers through your journey's surface terrain into the emotional, spiritual, or metaphorical landscape at its center.

Before you start writing, be sure to read the examples below.

LITTLE GIDDING  (excerpt) 

We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.
(Click Here to Read the Whole Poem: Little Gidding)


The railroad track is miles away, 
    And the day is loud with voices speaking, 
Yet there isn't a train goes by all day 
    But I hear its whistle shrieking.

All night there isn't a train goes by, 
    Though the night is still for sleep and dreaming, 
But I see its cinders red on the sky, 
    And hear its engine steaming.

My heart is warm with friends I make, 
    And better friends I'll not be knowing; 
Yet there isn't a train I'd rather take, 
    No matter where it's going. 


First it’s liftoff and she’s wearing her history
like a bib. Sleep won’t bend her knee, she’s
bent with the lack. So she’s going with the man
and the wind blows through. She won’t beat like
a wren’s wing, like that wing but she’ll flap and
he knows it. Bird on the breeze over the sheep-
field. Take these bitters and run to the pub. No.
Not what he said he said here is the fence now
play outside. He said here is the gate now play
outside. He said go outside. Yes. And, yes, has
a kink in her hip, her brain’s on hold. She’s a mild
case of still alive. (Still has the mother’s eyes, and
the father’s eyes. The gun & a bucket for the blood.
She climbs their rope ladders. A wind blows through.)
She’s eating cold fish. She’s eating cold fish and
she’s watching three sheep, three bend at the knee.
When she flaps those sheep turn and turn
their sheepy eyes. Behind barbed wire the sheep
turn. She’s taking direction from some guy named Z.
She’s taking that direction: turns left at the bus stop,
dustbin, callbox. Turns right at the White Hart, brown
dog, stoat. Lorry, biscuit, hedgepig, hare turning. 

Acknowledgment: Blackbird (Spring 2007, Vol. 6, No. 1)
Reprinted by permission of the author.

"Questions of Travel" By Elizabeth Bishop 

"The Journey" By James Wright

"The Journey" By Mary Oliver

"The Road Not Taken" by Robert Frost

Songs for the Open Road is an anthology of over 80 poems on the theme of travel and adventure by 50 poets, including Whitman, Byron, Shelley, Masefield, Hughes, Dickinson, Yeats, Eliot, Hopkins, and many others. 

Click title to order:  Songs for the Open Road


  1. Great idea!
    "Every day is a journey, and the journey itself is home (Basho)."
    Renee Ashley is brilliant, thanks for posting her poem!

  2. Thanks for your comment, Bob, and for the Basho quote.

    Yes! I agree - Renee is brilliant.


    Five years flew by fast
    yet the sight still fresh in
    my mind – you waive good bye
    from the tarmac of the island air strip

    and I waive back behind my
    fifteen seater prop jet window, a
    ritual we choose to end most of my
    visits back home framed by a question

    that we both think
    but neither asks.
    And as the years go by
    they make our reunions

    tense. We both ponder
    the finality of an embrace
    and do our best to block it -
    push back from a long hug

    look away to hide
    a tear or find reasons
    to postpone the visit of next year.
    But not this time:

    I will hold your hug longer
    show you my tears and seek
    yours; acknowledge we are
    both getting dangerously older.

    My older brother.
    My only one.

  4. Thanks so much for sharing your poem, Basil. It's lovely, and the ending is something with which many will relate – the sense of time passing and how important relationships are.