Walkers are ‘practitioners of the city,’ for the city is made to be walked. A city is a language, a repository of possibilities, and walking is the act of speaking that language, of selecting from those possibilities. Just as language limits what can be said, architecture limits where one can walk, but the walker invents other ways to go.
― Rebecca Solnit, Wanderlust: A History of Walking
Good day, poets! I hope that you all are doing wonderful and enjoying the poetics week after week here at dVerse. I took a bit of a break from writing and reading after the end of poetry month. During that time period, I was also busy with certain interviews and exams for further education. One of them took me to the southern state of Tamil Nadu and its proximate territory of Puducherry. It was my first time traveling solo that far away from the familiar Northern plains of the country. The thing that I enjoyed the most during my brief stay was wandering around and observing my surroundings with a perceptive eye. I wonder if I literally made my eyes wide open to gather all the sights and views of the place and scared some people off during those walks. Ha!
You will have to pardon my excitement but I loved being near the coastline and walking along the length of some lovely beaches. The oft-ignored sights of people going nowhere and everywhere, ferrying kids on a two-wheeler, the bright red of half-smiles and the blues under the eyes of tired construction workers, the unique kind of yellow on that cafe building and its long windows, a large rock on crinkly sand that looked like a sleeping dog, the old bell tower that no one acknowledges anymore, made me feel a certain glee at the prospect of a plethora of sensory stimuli one gets to encounter everywhere. It is all about taking a step back and observing things, which is easier said than done when we are almost always rushing somewhere.
Here are a few poems about walking and wandering around and all that one may encounter and realize while doing so, for your perusal:
Sweet Was The Walk
(by William Wordsworth)
Sweet was the walk along the narrow lane
At noon, the bank and hedge-rows all the way
Shagged with wild pale green tufts of fragrant hay,
Caught by the hawthorns from the loaded wain,
Which Age with many a slow stoop strove to gain;
And childhood, seeming still most busy, took
His little rake; with cunning side-long look,
Sauntering to pluck the strawberries wild, unseen.
Now, too, on melancholy’s idle dreams
Musing, the lone spot with my soul agrees,
Quiet and dark; for through the thick wove trees
Scarce peeps the curious star till solemn gleams
The clouded moon, and calls me forth to stray
Thro’ tall, green, silent woods and ruins gray.
(by Rainer Maria Rilke, tr. Robert Bly)
My eyes already touch the sunny hill.
going far ahead of the road I have begun.
So we are grasped by what we cannot grasp;
it has inner light, even from a distance-
and charges us, even if we do not reach it,
into something else, which, hardly sensing it,
we already are; a gesture waves us on
answering our own wave…
but what we feel is the wind in our faces.
Walk about the subway station
(by Charles Reznikoff)
Walk about the subway station
in a grove of steel pillars;
how their knobs, the rivet-heads —
unlike those of oaks —
are regularly placed;
how barren the ground is
except here and there on the platform
a flat black fungus
that was chewing-gum.
All these poems capture different facets of the pleasure of wandering through familiar and not so familiar spaces, ranging from a slight melancholy of something remembered/missed to a pithy observation of a common urban scene with a twist. I am so in awe of Rilke’s “we are grasped by what we cannot grasp”.
A wrap of flowers lifts him
from pavement and cemetery wall
to convergence at the point he makes
of early morning, our seeing
each other see him
at the same time, and our letting on
we have, like him, made
something of the journey to which,
in the great scheme, he’s really
nothing. A man, heroic
in his middle-age, and his bearing
some of what’s inside
for all the road and its morning
to see. His bouquet seems to be
spring, a reflection of the swathe
and breath of blossom, fruit
and may, ornamental
peaks of cherry dusting
the green of park, the timing
of the parked cars. A sense,
then, of destination
only wants confirming
by a fall of petal on the dark
of his back or his shoulder, a kiss
for us to remember him by.
This is Anmol (alias HA) and I welcome you all to dVerse Poetics. For this Tuesday’s prompt, I would like all of you to wander around for a bit — take an old familiar walk through the sights and smells of your town or city, a remembered journey from when you visited someplace new the last time, a metaphorical stroll through memorized images and pictured memories, a silent observation of one string of thought to its last remnant, et al. and pen down all that you see, feel, touch, know, experience, in its ambit or perhaps its exact opposite. You can think of wandering and observing as an entirely metaphorical construct too. Once you have written it all down in the form of a poem and posted it, add your link in the widget down below. Do not forget to visit others and share your words/comments with them. I look forward to reading your take on this theme.
And I wish you all a great week ahead!