“Everywhere is walking distance if you have the time.” –Steven Wright
Walking comes up so often in poems it’s nearly a cliché. Poems inspired by taking a walk. Poems about things noticed on a walk. Odes to walking, the original form of transportation. It’s almost too common to think about rounding up a list of poems that involve walking, even if I did collect some quotations and write a personal post about how we form our path in life.
And yet…. Some of the ones I come across in my poetry-reading rambles resonate in particular because the act of walking forms so much of the foundation. That’s a different approach than my lists of bicycle poems and transportation poems, in which the reference to a bike or to another mode of transportation may almost be glimpsed in passing, not serve as the core. As with those lists, the poems linked here represent serendipitous discoveries, not a concerted effort to go in search of walking poems. The joy of discovering the unexpected is a quintessential element of going for a walk, after all.
Hence another collection of poems, published in the month of Walktober.
“The Three Bridges Trail” by Dana Yost
Walk with me, in the green and the cool.
Walk with me, on the ledge of the stone
of the bridges:
“Directions” by Billy Collins
And you know how if you leave the path
and walk up into the woods you come
to a heap of rocks, probably pushed
down during the horrors of the Ice Age,
[Traveler, your footprints] by Antonio Machado
Traveler, there is no road;
you make your own path as you walk.
“Walking Meditation” by Thich Nhat Hanh
Take my hand.
We will walk.
We will only walk.
We will enjoy our walk
without thinking of arriving anywhere.
“Walk Slowly” by Danna Faulds
and I remember again that life isn’t a relay race;
that we will all cross the finish line;
that waking up to life is what we were born for.
“Talk about Walking” by Philip Booth
I’m taking off
on my own two feet. I’m going
to clear my head, to watch
mares’-tails instead of TV,
to listen to trees and silence,
to see if I can still breathe.
“Call It Ours” by Rick Kempa
We do not require
a thread of cairns
to mark the route.
Leave it to us
to find our way across
the swollen stream
to get our feet wet
if we must,
“March 20, the vernal equinox” by Ted Kooser
How important it must be
that I am alive, and walking,
“In Rhythm” by Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer
…and although we can’t see
the dirt road right beneath us, we trust
the road’s there as we step, step again, step again—
A quotation to bring this perambulation to an end:
“Slowness means cleaving perfectly to time, so closely that the seconds fall one by one, drop by drop like the steady dripping of a tap on stone. This stretching of time deepens space. It is one of the secrets of walking: a slow approach to landscapes that gradually renders them familiar.”
~ Frédérec Gros, The Philosophy of Walking
On My Personal Blog
In January 2023 I started a series of monthly posts on experiences and things noticed while walking, and I’ve written about the symbolism of the path.
- Walking a Path
- Walking in January: Of Gloves and Poetry
- Walking in February: Of Woods and Water
- Walking in March: Of Woods and Work
- Walking in April: Of Multimodal Miles and Museums
- Walking in May: Of Downtowns and Dancing
- Walking in June: Of Habits and Herons
- Walking in July: Of Findings and Feathers
- Walking in August: Of Sparkles and Shorelines
- Walking in September: Of Berries and Bunnies
- Walking in October: Of Travel and Timers
- When did you last go for a walk simply to walk, not to get exercise or arrive at a destination?
- What was it like?