Some Classical Travel Poems

If Once You Have Slept on an Island

By: Rachel Field (1894–1942)

If once you have slept on an island 

You’ll never be quite the same; 

You may look as you looked the day before 

And go by the same old name, 

You may bustle about in street and shop; 

You may sit at home and sew, 

But you’ll see blue water and wheeling gulls 

Wherever your feet may go. 

You may chat with the neighbors of this and that 

And close to your fire keep, 

But you’ll hear ship whistle and lighthouse bell 

And tides beat through your sleep. 

Oh, you won’t know why, and you can’t say how 

Such change upon you came, 

But – once you have slept on an island

You’ll never be quite the same! 

A Strip of Blue 

By: Lucy Larcom (1824–1893)

I do not own an inch of land,     

But all I see is mine, – 

The orchard and the mowing fields, 

The lawns and gardens fine. 

The winds my tax-collectors are, 

They bring me tithes divine, – 

Wild scents and subtle essences, 

A tribute rare and free; 

And, more magnificent than all, 

My window keeps for me 

A glimpse of blue immensity, – 

A little strip of sea. 

Richer am I than he who owns 

Great fleets and argosies; 

I have a share in every ship 

Won by the inland breeze, 

To loiter on yon airy road 

Above the apple-trees, 

I freight them with my untold dreams; 

Each bears my own picked crew; 

And nobler cargoes wait for them 

Than ever India knew, – 

My ships that sail into the East 

Across that outlet blue. 

Sometimes they seem like living shapes, – 

The people of the sky, – 

Guests in white raiment coming down 

From heaven, which is close by; 

I call them by familiar names, 

As one by one draws nigh,

So white, so light, so spirit-like, 

From violet mists they bloom! 

The aching wastes of the unknown 

Are half reclaimed from gloom, 

Since on life’s hospitable sea 

All souls find sailing-room. 

The ocean grows a weariness 

With nothing else in sight; 

Its east and west, its north and south, 

Spread out from morn till night; 

We miss the warm, caressing shore, 

Its brooding shade and light. 

O to sail 

By: Walt Whitman (1819–1892)

O to sail in a ship, 

To leave this steady unendurable land, 

To leave the tiresome sameness of the streets, 

the sidewalks and the houses, 

To leave you, O you solid motionless land, and 

entering a ship, 

To sail and sail and sail! 

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