It's been said that we travel to lose ourselves, and that we travel to find ourselves. As Proust wrote, “The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes.”
1. Think about what “travel” means to you in terms of wonder, discovery, and self-revelation. Has any journey in your life given you “new eyes?” (For example, a trip to another country, the journey through school, through a romance, through marriage or divorce, through parenthood, through loss and grief.)
2. Think about times you've traveled without going anywhere.
3. Write a poem in which you travel: the journey may be geographical, 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.
4. Before you start writing, be sure to read the examples below. In the T. S. Eliot poem, what kind of journey did he write about?
1. Power your travel poem with details that show without telling.
2. Be specific, avoid general terms, phrases, and statements. Avoid abstractions or philosophical musings. Use imagery to evoke the meaning and truth of human experiences in perceptible and “actual” terms.
3. Create layers of meaning (at least 2—the stated meaning and the underlying meaning).
4. Don’t give away the deeper meaning of “travel” in your poem. Hint at it, give the reader room to enter the poem and discover whatever layers of meaning you develop.
Little Gidding (excerpt)
By T. S.Eliot
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.
By Edna St. Vincent Millay
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.
"The Journey" By Mary Oliver