Travel Poems - Poems For Travel

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Questions Of Travel - Poem by Elizabeth Bishop

There are too many waterfalls here; the crowded streams
hurry too rapidly down to the sea,
and the pressure of so many clouds on the mountaintops
makes them spill over the sides in soft slow-motion,
turning to waterfalls under our very eyes.
- For if those streaks, those mile-long, shiny, tearstains,
aren't waterfalls yet,
in a quick age or so, as ages go here,
they probably will be.
But if the streams and clouds keep travelling, travelling,
the mountains look like the hulls of capsized ships,
slime-hung and barnacled.

Think of the long trip home.
Should we have stayed at home and thought of here?
Where should we be today?
Is it right to be watching strangers in a play
in this strangest of theatres?
What childishness is it that while there's a breath of life
in our bodies, we are determined to rush
to see the sun the other way around?
The tiniest green hummingbird in the world?
To stare at some inexplicable old stonework,
inexplicable and impenetrable,
at any view,
instantly seen and always, always delightful?
Oh, must we dream our dreams
and have them, too?
And have we room
for one more folded sunset, still quite warm?

But surely it would have been a pity
not to have seen the trees along this road,
really exaggerated in their beauty,
not to have seen them gesturing
like noble pantomimists, robed in pink.
- Not to have had to stop for gas and heard
the sad, two-noted, wooden tune
of disparate wooden clogs
carelessly clacking over
a grease-stained filling-station floor.
(In another country the clogs would all be tested.
Each pair there would have identical pitch.)
- A pity not to have heard
the other, less primitive music of the fat brown bird
who sings above the broken gasoline pump
in a bamboo church of Jesuit baroque:
three towers, five silver crosses.

- Yes, a pity not to have pondered,
blurr'dly and inconclusively,
on what connection can exist for centuries
between the crudest wooden footwear
and, careful and finicky,
the whittled fantasies of wooden cages
- Never to have studied history in
the weak calligraphy of songbirds' cages.
- And never to have had to listen to rain
so much like politicians' speeches:
two hours of unrelenting oratory
and then a sudden golden silence
in which the traveller takes a notebook, writes:

'Is it lack of imagination that makes us come
to imagined places, not just stay at home?
Or could Pascal have been not entirely right
about just sitting quietly in one's room?

Continent, city, country, society:
the choice is never wide and never free.
And here, or there... No. Should we have stayed at home,
wherever that may be? '

Comments about Questions Of Travel by Elizabeth Bishop

  • Haidee Majola 7/28/2018 8:46:00 AM

    Or to stay at home
    To be content with who we are
    For inside of us
    Is our home
    The rest is alien land
    Filled with alien eyes
    Staring gnawing into us... This poem is penned beautifully.👌

    3 person liked.
    5 person did not like.
  • manny 11/10/2017 10:39:00 AM

    who is the publisher? Reply

    5 person liked.
    5 person did not like.
  • Hu Sang 11/25/2007 11:17:00 AM

    this poem teach me the imagination of Geography. Reply

    12 person liked.
    10 person did not like.
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Travel Poems

  1. Swallows Travel To And Fro

    SWALLOWS travel to and fro, And the great winds come and go, And the steady breezes blow, Bearing perfume, bearing love. Breezes hasten, swallows fly, Towered clouds forever ply, And at noonday, you and I See the same sunshine above. Dew and rain fall everywhere, Harvests ripen, flowers are fair, And the whole round earth is bare To the moonshine and the sun; And the live air, fanned with wings, Bright with breeze and sunshine, brings Into contact distant things, And makes all the countries one. Let us wander where we will, Something kindred greets us still; Something seen on vale or hill Falls familiar on the heart; So, at scent or sound or sight, Severed souls by day and night Tremble with the same delight - Tremble, half the world apart.

  2. Travel

    I should like to rise and go Where the golden apples grow;-- Where below another sky Parrot islands anchored lie, And, watched by cockatoos and goats, Lonely Crusoes building boats;-- Where in sunshine reaching out Eastern cities, miles about, Are with mosque and minaret Among sandy gardens set, And the rich goods from near and far Hang for sale in the bazaar;-- Where the Great Wall round China goes, And on one side the desert blows, And with the voice and bell and drum, Cities on the other hum;-- Where are forests hot as fire, Wide as England, tall as a spire, Full of apes and cocoa-nuts And the negro hunters' huts;-- Where the knotty crocodile Lies and blinks in the Nile, And the red flamingo flies Hunting fish before his eyes;-- Where in jungles near and far, Man-devouring tigers are, Lying close and giving ear Lest the hunt be drawing near, Or a comer-by be seen Swinging in the palanquin;-- Where among the desert sands Some deserted city stands, All its children, sweep and prince, Grown to manhood ages since, Not a foot in street or house, Not a stir of child or mouse, And when kindly falls the night, In all the town no spark of light. There I'll come when I'm a man With a camel caravan; Light a fire in the gloom Of some dusty dining-room; See the pictures on the walls, Heroes fights and festivals; And in a corner find the toys Of the old Egyptian boys.

  3. Travel

    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 wouldn't take, No matter where it's going.

  4. Food In Travel

    IF to her eyes' bright lustre I were blind, No longer would they serve my life to gild. The will of destiny must be fulfilid,-- This knowing, I withdrew with sadden'd mind. No further happiness I now could find: The former longings of my heart were still'd; I sought her looks alone, whereon to build My joy in life,--all else was left behind. Wine's genial glow, the festal banquet gay, Ease, sleep, and friends, all wonted pleasures glad I spurn'd, till little there remain'd to prove. Now calmly through the world I wend my way: That which I crave may everywhere be had, With me I bring the one thing needful--love.