We present this work in honor of the poet’s 140th birthday.
“Are you feeling cold?” you asked me. I couldn’t deny that I was: you’d detected it in my countenance and possibly even my voice.
You were also feeling cold. I could tell, though not by your face; it’s as if your soul were kept on display to mine in a crystal vase. “Close the door!” you commanded. I thought: what we ought to close instead is that book of yours… That book was the source of the cold.
We present this work in honor of World Tourism Day.
Travel they say improves the mind, An irritating platitude, which frankly, entre nous, Is very far from true.
Personally I’ve yet to find that longitude and latitude can educate those scores of monumental bores Who travel in groups and herds and troupes Of varying breeds and sexes Till the whole world reels…
to shouts and squeals… And the clicking of Rolleiflexes.
Why do the wrong people travel, travel, travel When the right people stay back home? What compulsion compels them and who the hell tells them To drag their cans to Zanzibar, instead of staying quietly in Omaha. The Taj Mahal and the Grand Canal And the sunny French Rivera Would be less oppressed if the Middle West Would settle for somewhere rather nearer. Please do not think that I criticize or cavel at a genuine urge to roam. But why, oh why, do the wrong people travel
when the right people stay back home And mind their business when the right people stay back home And eat hot doughnuts when the right people stay back home I sometimes wonder why the right people stay back home.
Just when you think romance is ripe it rather sharply dawns on you That each sweet serenade is for the tourist trade Any attractive native type who resolutely fawns on you Will give as his address American Express There isn’t a rock between Bangkok and the beaches of Hispianola That does not recoil from suntan oil and the gurgle of Coca-Cola
Why do the wrong people travel, travel, travel When the right people stay back home? What explains this mass mania to leave Pennsylvania And clack around like flocks of geese. Demanding dry martinis on the isles of Greece In the smallest street, where the gourmets meet, They invariably fetch up And it’s hard to make them accept a steak that isn’t served rare and smeared with ketchup.
Millions of tourists are churning up the gravel While they gaze at St. Peter’s Dome,
But why, oh why do the wrong people travel when the right people stay back home with Cinerama when the right people stay back home with all that Kleenex when the right people stay back home I merely asking why the right people stay back home
What peculiar obsessions inspire those processions Of families from Houston Tex with all those cameras around their necks? They will take a train Or an aeroplane For an hour on the Costa Brava, And they’ll see Pompeii On the only day When it’s up to its ass in molten lava! It would take years to unravel, ravel, ravel Every impulse that makes them wanna roam. But why oh WHY do the wrong people travel When the right people stay at home.” and Yogie Bear-O when the right people stay back home won’t someone tell me why the right people stay back home.
The moon is dark tonight, a new moon for a new year. It is hollow and hungers to be full. It is the black zero of beginning.
Now you must void yourself of injuries, insults, incursions. Go with empty hands to those you have hurt and make amends.
It is not too late. It is early and about to grow. Now is the time to do what you know you must and have feared to begin. Your face is dark too as you turn inward to face yourself, the hidden twin of all you must grow to be.
Forgive the dead year. Forgive yourself. What will be wants to push through your fingers. The light you seek hides in your belly. The light you crave longs to stream from your eyes. You are the moon that will wax in new goodness.
They took their stand where the appointed judges Had cast their lots and ranged the rival cars. Rang out the brazen trump! Away they bound, Cheer the hot steeds and shake the slackened reins; As with a body the large space is filled With the huge clangor of the rattling cars. High whirl aloft the dust-clouds; blent together, Each presses each and the lash rings; and loud Snort the wild steeds, and from their fiery breath, Along their manes and down the circling wheels Scatter the flaking foam. Orestes still— Ays, as he swept around the perilous pillar Last in the course, wheeled in the rushing axle; The left rein curbed,—that on the dexter hand Flung loose.— So on erect the chariots rolled! Sudden the Ænian’s fierce and headlong steeds Broke from the bit — and, as the seventh time now The course was circled, on the Libyan car Dashed their wild fronts: then order changed to ruin: Car crashed on car; the wide Crissæan plain Was sea-like strewed with wrecks; the Athenian saw, Slackened his speed, and wheeling round the marge, Unscathed and skillful, in the midmost space, Left the wild tumult of that tossing storm. Behind, Orestes, hitherto the last, Had yet kept back his coursers for the close; Now one sole rival left — on, on he flew, And the sharp sound of the impelling scourge Rang in the keen ears of the flying steeds. He nears, he reaches — they are side by side — Now one — the other — by a length the victor. The courses all are past — the wheels erect — All safe — when, as the hurrying coursers round The fatal pillar dashed, the wretched boy Slackened the left rein: on the column’s edge Crashed the frail axle: headlong from the car Caught and all meshed within the reins, he fell; And masterless the mad steeds raged along! Loud from that mighty multitude arose A shriek — a shout! But yesterday such deeds, To-day such doom! Now whirled upon the earth, Now his limbs dashed aloft, they dragged him — those Wild horses — till all gory from the wheels Released; — and no man, not his nearest friends, Could in that mangled corpse have traced Orestes. They laid the body on the funeral-pyre; And while we speak, the Phocian strangers bear, In a small, brazen, melancholy urn, That handful of cold ashes to which all The grandeur of the Beautiful hath shrunk.