Hero's Poetry Journey, week 2
DEPARTURE: The Call to Adventure
The Call to Adventure
My call was a literal phone call, from the police. We were two states away, and they had been to our house four times. One of my children was involved. The adventure had begun.
When the call to adventure comes, the hero can’t say no. We can’t leave the text on Read, no reply. Even if we feel reluctant.
There are people who thrill to adventure’s call; I am not that sort of people. Kindly leave me alone and I’ll content myself with a book of poetry and some tea, thank you very much. (Perhaps a little dark chocolate.) My only experience with the police up to that point was being pulled over for driving 30 mph in a 20 mph school zone in an unfamiliar part of town. I was not the hero needed for this adventure.
I was no Odysseus (also known as Ulysses).
These fifteen lines from Alfred Lord Tennyson’s “Ulysses” are the first poetry I ever memorized, so they represent my call to adventure on another level too. But I did not especially like this particular poem. And when I read The Odyssey, I didn’t much like Odysseus. (I loved Penelope.) But I could identify with these words Tennyson put in Ulysses’ mouth:
Tho’ much is taken, much abides; and tho’ We are not now that strength which in old days Moved earth and heaven, that which we are, we are;
That which I am, I am. For better, for worse, for this journey. The phone is ringing.
Ulysses (excerpt) Come, my friends, ‘T is not too late to seek a newer world. Push off, and sitting well in order smite The sounding furrows; for my purpose holds To sail beyond the sunset, and the baths Of all the western stars, until I die. It may be that the gulfs will wash us down: It may be we shall touch the Happy Isles, And see the great Achilles, whom we knew. Tho’ much is taken, much abides; and tho’ We are not now that strength which in old days Moved earth and heaven, that which we are, we are; One equal temper of heroic hearts, Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield. – Alfred Lord Tennyson
Read Tennyson’s poem. Jot down what you notice, what you like, what you don’t, what questions you have, and at least one way in which the poem speaks to your soul.
Write about a call that forced you to do something you were reluctant to do.
Read Tennyson's poem aloud. Pick one phrase or line or stanza you can tuck deep in your heart.
Write your own haiku about this stage of your hero’s poetry journey. (Mine is at meganwillome.com.) If you like, email me what you write.
Thanks for reading Poetry for Life! Subscribe to enjoy more poetry (and red teacups).