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A blog about travel, places I love, places I've lived, and strange customs that keep us occupied the world over.

Featured so far: Tokyo, London, Berlin...

Happy National Poetry Day!

I’m going to crumple this word,

to twist it,

yes,

it’s too slick

like a big dog or a river

had been lapping it down with its tongue, or water

had worn it away with the years.

I want gravel

to show in the word,

the ferruginous salt,

the gap-toothed power

of the soil.

There must be a blood-letting

for talker and non-talker alike.

I want to see thirst

in the syllables,

touch fire

in the sound;

feel through the dark

for the scream. Let

my words be acrid

as virginal stone.

- Pablo Neruda

poetry Pablo Neruda National Poetry Day Traditions

And I have felt
A presence that disturbs me with the joy
Of elevated thoughts; a sense sublime
Of something far more deeply interfused,
Whose dwelling is the light of setting suns,
And the round ocean, and the living air,
And the blue sky, and in the mind of man,
A motion and a spirit, that impels
All thinking things, all objects of all thought,
And rolls through all things.

William Wordsworth, “LINES WRITTEN A FEW MILES ABOVE TINTERN ABBEY, ON REVISITING THE BANKS OF THE WYE DURING A TOUR, JULY 13, 1798”, from Lyrical Ballads


A few snaps from my journey through the Wye Valley last week, and the haunting ruins of Tintern Abbey, enveloped in mist and rain. 

Wales poetry William Wordsworth Wye Valley Tintern Abbey Monmouthshire landscape countryside misty landscape Religion ruins

The Great Buddha (Daibutsu) of Kamakura (near Tokyo)

O ye who treated the Narrow Way
By Tophet-flare to Judgment Day,
Be gentle when “the heathen” pray
      To Buddha at Kamakura!

For though he neither burns nor sees,
Nor hears ye thank your Deities,
Ye have not sinned with such as these,
      His children at Kamakura,

Yet spare us still the Western joke
When joss-sticks turn to scented smoke
The little sins of little folk
      That worship at Kamakura —

The grey-robed, gay-sashed butterflies
That flit beneath the Master’s eyes.
He is beyond the Mysteries
      But loves them at Kamakura.

And whoso will, from Pride released,
Contemning neither creed nor priest,
May feel the Soul of all the East
      About him at Kamakura.

A tourist-show, a legend told,
A rusting bulk of bronze and gold,
So much, and scarce so much, ye hold
      The meaning of Kamakura?

But when the morning prayer is prayed,
Think, ere ye pass to strife and trade,
Is God in human image made
      No nearer than Kamakura?

 - Rudyard Kipling (selected verses from ‘The Edge of the East’, 1892, collected in ‘The Five Nations’, 1903, and also used as introductory verses to his novel ‘Kim’, 1901.

Kamakura Japan Tokyo Great Buddha Daibutsu Rudyard Kipling Poetry bronze statue monument