Glares the imperious mystery of the way.
Thirsty for dark, you feel the long-limbed train
Throb, stretch, thrill motion, slide, pull out and sway,
Strain for the far, pause, draw to strength again...
-- "The Night Journey" by Rupert Brooke (1915)
Poetry. Poetry and travel. Do they go together? Are they secret lovers -- or at least good pals?
The answer's yes, if you ask some of history's most famous scribes. Think Kipling on India, Wordsworth on England's Lake District, Carl Sandburg on Chicago, Elizabeth Bishop on Brazil, Robert Frost on rural New England.
It's an equal thumbs-up if you ask those of us who like to go places with a few dog-eared books or a tablet in tow. Rooting around in one of these is where I discovered Rupert Brooke's ode to train travel (see above), along with many others.
Still, it's always seemed to me that poems of travel and of particular destinations end up getting buried under truckloads of guidebooks. Under trainloads of travelogues. Under boatloads of prose.
To be honest, this sticks in my craw. So much, in fact, that it's turned into a project. I'm at work on a book that will collect in one volume -- paperback-size, I hope -- some of the best travel poems ever written. But I need you to make this happen.
Using the contact on my website (http://www.author-illustr-source.com/petermandel.html) or by posting a comment to this blog, let me know which poems have been special to you in "opening up" places you've traveled to, helping you notice and appreciate things on the road, causing a smile or smirk or bringing back memories of a trip when you're back home.
They don't have to be famous poems. Or even well-known. Same goes for the poet. Traditional rhyming lines are fine; so is the most experimental stuff you can find. But please don't just name the poem -- include at least a few of the lines or stanzas that you think are most evocative of the journey or destination.
I'll pick some of the best and most intriguing for a future Huffington Post blog and for the book. Feel free to post a comment or poem-suggestion anonymously. But if you want your favorite poem or poems to be considered, and to get credit as a contributor, please include your full name and an email address when you get in touch.
Yours might be something along the lines of this excerpt from Composed upon Westminster Bridge (1802), a sonnet by William Wordsworth that describes London and the River Thames:
This City now doth, like a garment, wear
The beauty of the morning; silent, bare,
Ships, towers, domes, theatres and temples lie
Open unto the fields, and to the sky;
Or it might be more like these Brazil-focused lines from Elizabeth Bishop's The Armadillo (from her collection, "Questions of Travel," published in 1965):
This is the time of year
when almost every night
the frail, illegal fire balloons appear.
Climbing the mountain height,
rising toward a saint
still honored in these parts,
the paper chambers flush and fill with light
that comes and goes, like hearts.
Once up against the sky it's hard
to tell them from the stars--
planets, that is--the tinted ones:
Venus going down, or Mars.
Or it might be something completely different. Can't wait to see what you've got.
Peter Mandel has published one poetry collection, "If One Lived on the Equator" (Nightshade Press). He's an author of picture books for kids, including his read-aloud bestseller: Jackhammer Sam (Macmillan/Roaring Brook), and his newest about zoo animals passing on a very noisy sneeze: Zoo Ah-Choooo (Holiday House).