Summer will soon draw to an end for most of the Western Hemisphere. Those of us who managed to take time out to travel to unfamiliar places have all, likely, gathered new experiences that we will remember with varying emotions over the coming years.

Travel has been a popular theme among poets and writers. In fact, since medieval times, there have been records of wandering minstrels and poets who wrote extensively about their travels. Back then, such works were memorized, often set to music, and passed through entire communities and generations as the only ways to share experiences and stories as well as serve as guides for future travelers. Over time, even metaphorical travel has become an enduring theme.

So here’s a collection of travel-related poems from our archives.

1. For the Traveler by John O’Donohoe

Every time you leave home,
Another road takes you
Into a world you were never in.

New strangers on other paths await.
New places that have never seen you
Will startle a little at your entry.
Old places that know you well
Will pretend nothing
Changed since your last visit.

2. Sestina of the Tramp-Royal by Rudyard Kipling

Speakin’ in general, I ’ave tried ’em all—
The ’appy roads that take you o’er the world.
Speakin’ in general, I ’ave found them good
For such as cannot use one bed too long,
But must get ’ence, the same as I ’ave done,
An’ go observin’ matters till they die.

3. We Travel by Issa Makhlouf

We travel to go far away from the place of our birth and see the other side of sunrise. We travel in search of our childhood; of births unconceived. We travel so that unfinished alphabets complete. Let farewell be imbued with promises. Let us move far away like the twilight that accompanies us and bids us farewell. We tear up destinies and disperse their pages in the wind before we find—or fail to find—our life story in other books.

4. first time by Reina María Rodríguez

we went into a market—they call it a grocery—and you can’t imagine. fruit brilliant as magazine photos. all kinds of different oranges, grapefruits, mandarins, some tiny clementines with a blue sticker—Morocco—they’ve come so far…the eggs are painted with colors corresponding to the days of the week you’re supposed to eat them: a different color for each opportunity. i felt dizzy, the gulf between myself and this place seemed insuperable. tears welled up in my eyes, i wanted desperately to flee, to get outside so i could breathe. i wanted to explain to Phillis, the North American who had invited me, what was happening to me.


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