Where?

Five days ago, I pulled out Favorite Poems Old and New, edited by Helen Ferris, a book I’ve read from to the kids and one that played a pretty big role in my first 365-day photography project, which consisted of photos inspired by poems.

Five days ago, I embarked upon a new photography project inspired by poems, but this one is different: I have no accountability. There are no deadlines, no time periods, no promises about posting to social media. It’s just me and words that provide a springboard and direction.

I’m going through the book, poem by poem, letting whatever is next act as a very vague map. In fact, today’s poem reminded me of maps and an observation made by Seth Godin: There is no map. He was talking about life, about a meaningful life, or the life of an artist, or the life of a linchpin, or some such. The point, though, is that each one of us needs to create a life, and there is no never-fail recipe, path, or guidebook to doing it. There are no dice to roll, no Park Place followed by Boardwalk, no collect-$200-everytime-you-get-back-to-Start. This has taken on greater meaning for me recently, because my life is now filled with young adults and teens trying to figure things out in their lives.

So today’s poem is called “Somewhere,” was written by Walter de la Mare, and when I opened to it, I cringed a little. You see, I’ve read this poem to my kids a number of times, and the words have always struck me (and them) as rather silly and tedious and nonsensical. Today, though, I discovered something in this strange bit of verse. As I was reading it over and thinking about what photographic direction it was pointing to, I suddenly realized that the poem is about vocation, about finding a place in the world.

How very timely.

Could you tell me the way to Somewhere—
Somewhere, Somewhere,
I have heard of a place called Somewhere—
But know not where it can be.
It makes no difference,
Whether or not
I go in dreams
Or trudge on foot:
Would you tell me the way to Somewhere,
The Somewhere meant for me.

There’s a little old house in Somewhere—
Somewhere, Somewhere,
A queer little house, with a Cat and a Mouse—
Just room enough for three.
A kitchen, a larder,
A bin for bread,
A string of candles,
Or stars instead,
A table, a chair,
And a four-post bed—
There’s room for us all in Somewhere
For the Cat and the Mouse and Me.

Puss is called Skimme in Somewhere,
In Somewhere, Somewhere;
Miaou, miaou, in Somewhere.
S-K-I-M-M-E.
Miss Mouse is scarcely
One inch tall,
So she never needed
A name at all;
And though you call,
And call, and call,
There squeaks no answer,
Great or small—
Though her tail is a sight times longer
Than this is likely to be:

FOR

I want to be off to Somewhere,
To far, lone, lovely Somewhere,
No matter where Somewhere be.
It makes no difference
Whether or not
I go in dreams
Or trudge on foot,
Or this time to-morrow
How far I’ve got,
Summer or Winter,
Cold, or hot,
Where, or When,
Or Why, or What—
Please, tell me the way to Somewhere—
Somewhere, Somewhere;
Somewhere, Somewhere, Somewhere, SOMEWHERE—
The Somewhere meant for me!

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