The Poetry of the Road

image courtesy of Emma Di Marco /post by Roxanne Krystalli

Growing up in Greece may not have endowed me with a love of Kalamata olives or fresh fish – an offense that some have joked merits the revocation of my passport – but it cultivated in me a love of words. My childhood was infused with poetry. I remember my father complimenting my mother by remarking that “she looked like a poem.” In his eyes, the purest and finest beauty was that of poesy. And so in this setting, before I ever held a passport or set foot on a plane, I traveled through stanzas.

First, there was C.P. Cavafy and his Ithaca, encouraging me to savor the journey:

Keep Ithaca always on your mind.

Arriving there is what you are destined for.

But do not hurry the journey at all.

Then there was Walt Whitman and his Song of the Open Road, highlighting the romanticism that lies in the call to discover the world together:

Mon enfant! I give you my hand!

I give you my love, more precious than money,

I give you myself before preaching or law;

Will you give me yourself? will you come travel with me?

Shall we stick by each other as long as we live?

Mary Oliver and her Journey shone the light down the tunnel of the metaphorical travels through one’s own self:

and there was a new voice

which you slowly

recognized as your own,

that kept you company

as you strode deeper and deeper

into the world,

determined to do

the only thing you could do —

determined to save

the only life you could save.

It was Rumi and Odysseas Elytis, Yehuda Amichai and Elizabeth Bishop who gave wings to my aspirations. I have carried them with me, in my heart – as e.e. cummings would want me to – through Egypt and Colombia, Uganda and Guatemala.

Which poems have accompanied and inspired your own journeys?

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We are thrilled to welcome Roxanne as a regular contributor at Gypsy Girls Guide!!!

Roxanne Krystalli designs and implements programs that benefit women affected by conflict worldwide. Her work and travels have brought her from Egypt to Colombia and Uganda to Guatemala. In addition to her conflict management work, Roxanne is a photojournalist and fervent believer in the power of storytelling. She chronicles her life at Stories of Conflict and Love.

Comments
  • Oh how absolutely beautiful. Your words are inspiration enough to move off the computer and into my own world. (Of note, I adore the last poem and Rumi’s “field beyond right and wrongdoing”

  • Gorgeous! So pleased to meet you here! Welcome, fellow Gypsy Girl!

  • “I traveled through stanzas”, what a beautiful way to put it. That you for sharing these poems. The first books I ever read through were little poetry collection books by A.A. Milne. As for poems I enjoy now to get me through travels I love Robert Frosts, The Road Not Taken, and traveling or not I love Edna St. Vincent Millay, (my favorite of hers is Witch-Wife)

  • For me Mary Oliver too, all the way. Poetry is like breathing, really!
    xo (Essential in other words. Welcome!)

  • I’m late getting here–I’m late reading everything this month, I think–but I’m glad I got here at last. The Whitman piece you mentioned here is a real favorite of mine, and so is his whole “Live Oak with Moss” cycle. (Would you call it a cycle? If not, never mind.) What else? Maxine Kumin, Li-Young Lee, Anne Sexton, Edna St Vincent Millay, and Christopher Logue.

    Oh, and Elizabeth Barrett Browning. Swoon.

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