Creating a Journey Poem
Part I
A. Create three columns with these headings:
Rites of Passage
Forms of transportation
or movement
adjectives describing how you are
feeling during this passage
B. Choose a rite of passage and a form of transportation or movement. Then write three or four short lines
creating a metaphor or a similar kind of comparison
Some examples:
Frost's "The Road Not Taken"
Linda Pastan's "after minor surgery"
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
when the body
like a passenger on a long journey
hears the conductor call out
the name
of the first stop
C. Next, do one of the following:
Extend the metaphor by adding movement through the metaphorical world. Make sure you are
including specific images that bring that metaphorical world to life.
End the metaphor and describe that moment of your life in real terms. Make sure to create an
actual image or series of images that helps the reader experience the moment. Where are you? What
are the sounds and the smells around you? What do you feel? What do you see? Be as specific as
3. Create a series of small metaphors that describe different aspects of the event.
D. Next, choose one of the adjectives from the third column that expresses a feeling from the rite of
passage you have chosen and personify it – give it a human form or human characteristics. Fit that
personification in whichever method of elaboration you chose in C. If you are extending the metaphor,
in particular, make sure the personification fits within the metaphor.
Part II
See the model Journey poems below.
Part III Write a 20+ line poem that describes a significant journey or rite of passage you have taken
or are presently taking. While you poem may take any form, it must include a metaphor for the
journey. Consider adding a personification or other comparison for different emotional and physical
obstacles or aids to your journey. Use plenty of crisp sensory imagery, and remember that while you
are anchoring your vision in detail, you are seeking the elusive. "Poems are the stuff of revelation"
Dead Poets Society.
The Journey
One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
kept shouting
their bad advice -though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.
"Mend my life!"
each voice cried.
But you didn't stop.
You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers
at the very foundations,
though their melancholy
was terrible.
It was already late
enough, and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen
branches and stones.
But little by little,
as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do -determined to save
the only life you could save.
~ Mary Oliver ~
Journey into the Interior
In the long journey out of the self,
There are many detours, washed-out interrupted raw places
Where the shale slides dangerously
And the back wheels hang almost over the edge
At the sudden veering, the moment of turning.
Better to hug close, wary of rubble and falling stones.
The arroyo cracking the road, the wind-bitten buttes, the canyons,
Creeks swollen in midsummer from the flash-flood roaring into the narrow valley.
Reeds beaten flat by wind and rain,
Grey from the long winter, burnt at the base in late summer.
– Or the path narrowing,
Winding upward toward the stream with its sharp stones,
The upland of alder and birchtrees,
Through the swamp alive with quicksand,
The way blocked at last by a fallen fir-tree,
The thickets darkening,
The ravines ugly.
-Theodore Roethke
I felt a funeral in my brain,
And mourners, to and fro,
Kept treading, treading, till it seemed
That sense was breaking through.
And when they all were seated,
A service like a drum
Kept beating, beating, till I thought
My mind was going numb.
And then I heard them lift a box,
And creak across my soul
With those same boots of lead,
Then space began to toll
As all the heavens were a bell,
And Being but an ear,
And I and silence some strange race,
Wrecked, solitary, here.
And then a plank in reason, broke,
And I dropped down and down-And hit a world at every plunge,
And finished knowing--then-Emily Dickinson