Academic journal article The Hudson Review

Two Entries in the Annals of Wayfaring

Academic journal article The Hudson Review

Two Entries in the Annals of Wayfaring

Article excerpt


As nomads camp where others camped before,

As mice find winter digs under the stair,

As this year's swallows build their summer nest

Among the raftered nurseries of the past;

As mosses lodge in crevices of stone-

We too lodge in lodgings not our own.

A good hotel is its own household. It runs

On its own clock, from the moment the sky brightens

And the night clerk opens the door out back

To the Polish cleaning ladies and the cook.

What a good thing that you have quartered here

In this commercial largeness-solid, four-square,

Redolent of beeswax and veneer,

Secure as the Bank of England before the war.

Unseen, the staff perform their offices:

A dust cloth swishes over polished surfaces,

A hoover hums across a carpet somewhere,

The tea tray that you ordered appears at your door.

The morning is quickened by the tongues of bells.

Breakfasted, you sprawl in a wingback chair

And read the morning papers for an hour.


But what are these bourgeois assurances

to you, traveller?

-who have slept out under night skies

on the edge of the planet

and heard the canyon wren

sing in the morning?-

who have watched the moon set over Shiraz

at the moment the muezzin's call woke worshippers

for namaz, and you stumbled to the mosque

to wash and pray your own heterodox prayers

shoulder to shoulder with the men of the quarter? …

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