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By Ashleylister @ashleylister
Coronavirus has acted like a wanderlust inhibitor for millions of us for fifteen months already; and I suspect its brake-effect will go on being felt for many more weeks to come, regardless of impending announcements. Even the most resolutely stay-at-home individuals have been sorely tried by the impositions of lockdown, so the toll on habitual gadabouts must have been nigh-on intolerable.

While many governments still struggle to get the pandemic under control, as countries and regions within countries move back and forth between red, amber and green ratings, and when even young back-packers are suspected of spreading coronavirus variants across borders, it's hard to envisage international leisure travel picking up this year. The Portugal fiasco is a warning.Personally, I'm missing not only summers in Greece but trips to visit family and friends, week-end breaks, even something as mundane as going away to football matches in various parts of England on a Saturday. We await a June statement about easing of domestic lockdown with varying degrees of anticipation mixed with scepticism.I'm hoping that, as far as league football is concerned, it is all going to change for the better at the start of the new season. Last Sunday's trip to Wembley to watch Blackpool's triumphant return to the Championship has whetted the appetite again. (By the way, what a fantastic day it was in every respect: just getting out of town for the first time in an age, the weather turning hot and sunny, the team excelling on the pitch, the supporters providing such a passionate atmosphere inside the national stadium. If anything, it was possibly even more enjoyable than the win that took us to the Premier League.) By August, I hope we'll be able to follow the Seasiders to Birmingham, Bournemouth, Derby, Huddersfield, London (Fulham/QPR), Middlesbrough, Nottingham, Sheffield and South Wales (Cardiff/Swansea) for the first time in five years. But enough of the football for now, as I know it's not a subject close to everyone's heart.

Many great writers have given us a wealth of literature on the theme of wanderlust, which my dictionary defines as a strong urge to travel and explore (rooted in the German words for a desire to go hiking). It first came to prominence in the early 20th century and the derivation is appropriate given its thematic template derives from 19th century German Romanticism.
My favorite writer on theme is Hermann Hesse, whose novels, poetry and journals frequently focussed as much on the psychological and spiritual dimensions of wanderlust as on the topographical. The wanderer, a searcher after not just experience and harmony with nature but deeper truths about the human condition and enlightenment as to the meaning or purpose of life, features in many of his greatest works (Demian, Journey To The East, Siddhartha, Steppenwolf, Narziss and Goldmund).
What typifies the wanderer is a wild restlessness, a rejection of the safe and the staid, an inability or unwillingness to settle for the easy or mundane option, a need to be constantly seeking new experiences, new locales. Such an attitude to life comes at a price; it can be a rootless and lonesome (though not necessarily lonely) existence. A life dedicated to wanderlust is only for the bravest souls. 
I'm offering you two poems this week. The first (in translation from the German) is by Hermann Hesse.
Wild Heart Of MineEven the hottest, toughest daysend in the evening, cool and calmand quiet, gentle mother nightembraces every one of them.

You must find solace too, my heart,although you feel inflamed with passion.The night is near, the caring mother,to hold you in her tender arms.With hidden hands she buildsan invisible shrine, a sanctuary of reposefor you, the restless wanderer.In her temple you will finally find peace.Wild heart of mine, remember this.And love each feverish passionand the bitterness of pain, love toobefore you have to enter your eternal rest.Even the hottest, toughest daysend in the evening, cool and calmand quiet, gentle mother nightembraces every one of them.                                        Hermann Hesse  (1908 trans. by Ludwig Max Fischer)The second is my own latest from the imaginarium. It's an old brown shoe poem (no relation to the Beatles' song of the same name), an out-of-sequence suttee for footwear. I didn't start out to write yet another narrative piece. How does that happen? What you read may not be its final form as it feels a little incomplete. Thoughts?


Old Brown ShoeThat shoe he threw had trod continents,spoke a cultured brogue, more than oncehad stood toe to toe with rulers of men,mounted barricades when new, climbedsteep hill trails in both dew and dust,had even rested under a princess's bed.

It had felt many a skillful hand wax andshine its supple uppers or mend its solein times of wear, but it had only knownone right foot companion in wanderlustuntil a wicked war and world-wearinesscorralled them faceless, laceless tramps.
That shoe he threw, token of his disgustat how the words of the sage could beso trampled out of true in this rabid age,flew in a leather hail designed  to shamethe leader who just signalled to his aidesto round the footwear up and burn it all.
Thanks for reading. Keep happy feet, S ;-) Email ThisBlogThis!Share to TwitterShare to Facebook

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