Why Do the Wrong People Travel

We present this work in honor of World Tourism Day.

Noël Coward
English
1899 – 1973

 

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.

By Night When Others Soundly Slept

We present this work in honor of the 350th anniversary of the poet’s death.

Anne Bradstreet
English
1612 – 1672

 

1

By night when others soundly slept
And hath at once both ease and Rest,
My waking eyes were open kept
And so to lie I found it best.

2

I sought him whom my Soul did Love,
With tears I sought him earnestly.
He bow’d his ear down from Above.
In vain I did not seek or cry.

3

My hungry Soul he fill’d with Good;
He in his Bottle put my tears,
My smarting wounds washt in his blood,
And banisht thence my Doubts and fears.

4

What to my Saviour shall I give
Who freely hath done this for me?
I’ll serve him here whilst I shall live
And Loue him to Eternity.

Work

We present this work in honor of Labor Day.

Eliza Cook
English
1818 – 1889

 

Work, work, my boy, be not afraid;
Look labor boldly in the face;
Take up the hammer or the spade,
And blush not for your humble place.

There’s glory in the shuttle’s song;
There’s triumph in the anvil’s stroke;
There’s merit in the brave and strong
Who dig the mine or fell the oak.

The wind disturbs the sleeping lake,
And bids it ripple pure and fresh;
It moves the green boughs till they make
Grand music in their leafy mesh.

And so the active breath of life
Should stir our dull and sluggard wills;
For are we not created rife
With health, that stagnant torpor kills?

I doubt if he who lolls his head
Where idleness and plenty meet,
Enjoys his pillow or his bread
As those who earn the meals they eat.

And man is never half so blest
As when the busy day is spent
So as to make his evening rest
A holiday of glad content.

Farewell to Folly

We present this work in honor of the 430th anniversary of the poet’s death.

Robert Greene
English
1558 – 1592

 

Sweet are the thoughts that savour of content;
The quiet mind is richer than a crown;
Sweet are the nights in careless slumber spent;
The poor estate scorns fortune’s angry frown:
Such sweet content, such minds, such sleep, such bliss,
Beggars enjoy, when princes oft do miss.

The homely house that harbours quiet rest;
The cottage that affords no pride nor care;
The mean that ‘grees with country music best;
The sweet consort of mirth and music’s fare;
Obscured life sets down a type of bliss:
A mind content both crown and kingdom is.

A Ballad of Religion and Marriage

We present this work in honor of Women’s Equality Day.

Amy Levy
English
1861 – 1889

 

Swept into limbo is the host
Of heavenly angels, row on row;
The Father, Son, and Holy Ghost,
Pale and defeated, rise and go.
The great Jehovah is laid low,
Vanished his burning bush and rod—
Say, are we doomed to deeper woe?
Shall marriage go the way of God?

Monogamous, still at our post,
Reluctantly we undergo
Domestic round of boiled and roast,
Yet deem the whole proceeding slow.
Daily the secret murmurs grow;
We are no more content to plod
Along the beaten paths—and so
Marriage must go the way of God.

Soon, before all men, each shall toast
The seven strings unto his bow,
Like beacon fires along the coast,
The flame of love shall glance and glow.
Nor let nor hindrance man shall know,
From natal bath to funeral sod;
Perennial shall his pleasures flow
When marriage goes the way of God.

Grant, in a million years at most,
Folk shall be neither pairs nor odd—
Alas! we sha’n’t be there to boast
“Marriage has gone the way of God!”

Flying Crooked

We present this work in honor of National Aviation Day.

Robert Graves
English
1895 – 1985

 

The butterfly, the cabbage white,
(His honest idiocy of flight)
Will never now, it is too late,
Master the art of flying straight,
Yet has – who knows so well as I? –
A just sense of how not to fly:
He lurches here and here by guess
And God and hope and hopelessness.
Even the aerobatic swift
Has not his flying-crooked gift.

This Be the Verse

We present this work in honor of the poet’s 100th birthday.

Philip Larkin
English
1922 – 1985

 

They fuck you up, your mum and dad.
They may not mean to, but they do.
They fill you with the faults they had
And add some extra, just for you.

But they were fucked up in their turn
By fools in old-style hats and coats,
Who half the time were soppy-stern
And half at one another’s throats.

Man hands on misery to man.
It deepens like a coastal shelf.
Get out as early as you can,
And don’t have any kids yourself.

Music when Soft Voices Die

We present this work in honor of the 200th anniversary of the poet’s death.

07-08 Shelley
Percy Bysshe Shelley
English
1792 – 1822

 

Music, when soft voices die,
Vibrates in the memory—
Odours, when sweet violets sicken,
Live within the sense they quicken.

Rose leaves, when the rose is dead,
Are heaped for the belovèd’s bed;
And so thy thoughts, when thou art gone,
Love itself shall slumber on.

Natural Progress

We present this work in honor of the poet’s 350th birthday.

06-11 Jonson
Ben Jonson
English
1572 – 1637

In all faith, we did our part:
generated punctually, prepared adequately,
ejected promptly,
and swam in the approved manner
in the appropriate direction;
did all instinctive things well,
even eagerly-
an exemplary start.
But then the barrier: unexpectedness
unexpectedly.
(They did not tell us this).
To go back impossible, unnatural:
so round; many times;
we tired ourselves.
Where were the promised homes,
embedded in the soft wall?
Or the anticipated achievement
so momentous, fulfilling?
So we died:
what else was there to do?
But in all faith, we did our part!

Porphyria’s Lover

We present this work in honor of the poet’s 210th birthday.

05-07 Browning
Robert Browning
English
1812 – 1889

The rain set early in to-night,
The sullen wind was soon awake,
It tore the elm-tops down for spite,
And did its worst to vex the lake:
I listened with heart fit to break.

When glided in Porphyria; straight
She shut the cold out and the storm,
And kneeled and made the cheerless grate
Blaze up, and all the cottage warm;
Which done, she rose, and from her form

Withdrew the dripping cloak and shawl,
And laid her soiled gloves by, untied
Her hat and let the damp hair fall,
And, last, she sat down by my side
And called me. When no voice replied,

She put my arm about her waist,
And made her smooth white shoulder bare,
And all her yellow hair displaced,
And, stooping, made my cheek lie there,
And spread, o’er all, her yellow hair,

Murmuring how she loved me — she
Too weak, for all her heart’s endeavour,
To set its struggling passion free
From pride, and vainer ties dissever,
And give herself to me for ever.

But passion sometimes would prevail,
Nor could to-night’s gay feast restrain
A sudden thought of one so pale
For love of her, and all in vain:
So, she was come through wind and rain.

Be sure I looked up at her eyes
Happy and proud; at last I knew
Porphyria worshipped me; surprise
Made my heart swell, and still it grew
While I debated what to do.

That moment she was mine, mine, fair,
Perfectly pure and good: I found
A thing to do, and all her hair
In one long yellow string I wound
Three times her little throat around,

And strangled her. No pain felt she;
I am quite sure she felt no pain.
As a shut bud that holds a bee,
I warily oped her lids: again
Laughed the blue eyes without a stain.

And I untightened next the tress
About her neck; her cheek once more
Blushed bright beneath my burning kiss:
I propped her head up as before,
Only, this time my shoulder bore

Her head, which droops upon it still:
The smiling rosy little head,
So glad it has its utmost will,
That all it scorned at once is fled,
And I, its love, am gained instead!

Porphyria’s love: she guessed not how
Her darling one wish would be heard.
And thus we sit together now,
And all night long we have not stirred,
And yet God has not said a word!