Allons! the road is before us!
It is safe—I have tried it—my own feet have tried it well.
Allons! be not detain’d!
—Walt Whitman

‘Don’t be a fool, Bilbo Baggins!’ he said to himself, ‘thinking of dragons and all that outlandish nonsense at your age!’
—J. R. R. Tolkien, The Hobbit

This spending of the best part of one’s life earning money in order to enjoy a questionable liberty during the least valuable part of it reminds me of the Englishman who went to India to make a fortune first, in order that he might return to England and live the life of a poet. He should have gone up garret at once.
—Henry David Thoreau, Walden

I went on ‘The Road’ because I couldn’t keep away from it; because I hadn’t the price of the railroad fare in my jeans; because I was so made that I couldn’t work all my life on ‘one same shift’; because—well, just because it was easier to than not to.
—Jack London, The Road

I wanted movement and not a calm course of existence. I wanted excitement and danger and the chance to sacrifice myself for my love. I felt in myself a superabundance of energy which found no outlet in our quiet life.
—Tolstoy, Family Happiness

Oh, a broken blade,
And an empty bag,
And a sodden kit,
And a foundered nag,

And a whimpering wind
Are more or less
Ground for a gentleman's distress.
Yet the blade will cut,

(He should swing with a will!)
And the emptiest bag
He may readiest fill;
And the nag will trot

If the man has a mind,
So the kit he may dry
In the whimpering wind. 
Shades of a gallant past—confess!

How many fights were won with less?
—Talbot Mundy, King of the Khyber Rifles 

Oh long-drawn highway, how excellent you are! How often have I in weariness and despondency set forth upon your length, and found in you salvation and rest! How often, as I followed your leading, have I been visited with wonderful thoughts and poetic dreams and curious, wild impressions!
—Nikolai Gogol, Dead Souls

In that precisely lies my calling,
So that the expanses won’t be bored,
So that beyond the city limits
The earth will not languish all alone.
—Boris Pasternak, Doctor Zhivago

Whenever I find myself growing grim about the mouth; whenever it is a damp, drizzly November in my soul; whenever I find myself involuntarily pausing before coffin warehouses, and bringing up the rear of every funeral I meet; and especially whenever my hypos get such an upper hand of me, that it requires a strong moral principle to prevent me from deliberately stepping into the street, and methodically knocking people’s hats off—then, I account it high time to get to sea as soon as I can.
—Herman Melville, Moby Dick

Since dark antiquity the words have been spoken by women of every caste to sailors in every port; words of docile acceptance of the horizon’s authority, of reckless homage to that mysterious azure boundary; words never failing to bestow on even the haughtiest woman the sadness, the hollow hopes, and the freedom of the whore: ‘You'll be leaving in the morning, won’t you . . .’
—Mishima Yukio, The Sailor Who Fell From Grace with the Sea

There’s a race of men that don't fit in,
A race that can't stay still;
So they break the hearts of kith and kin,
And they roam the world at will.
—Robert W. Service, The Spell of the Yukon, and Other Verses (1911)

The man wants to wander, and he must do so, or he shall die.
—Richard Francis Burton, The Personal Narrative of a Pilgrimage to Al Medinah and Meccah

“Go then, there are other worlds than these.”
—Stephen King, The Gunslinger

Rise free from care before the dawn, and seek adventures. Let the noon find thee by other lakes, and the night overtake thee everywhere at home.
—Henry David Thoreau, Walden

To travel, watch the darkness fall, arrive in a village, see the first lamps lighted and have nothing to eat, nor anywhere to sleep, and to let everything depend on God’s grace and the goodness of men—this, I think, is one of the greatest and purest joys in the world.
—Nikos Kazantzakis, The Last Temptation of Christ

Where have you brought me—and to what a house!
—Cassandra in Aeschylus’ Agamemnon

A good traveler has no fixed plans
and is not intent upon arriving.
—Laozi, Dao De Jing

One of the drawbacks about adventures is that when you come to the most beautiful places you are often too anxious and hurried to appreciate them.
—C. S. Lewis, A Horse and His Boy

Travellers are in too great a rush these days, in a rush to arrive – whatever it takes. But you do not arrive only at your destination. At every stage of the journey you arrive somewhere and with every step you can discover a hidden facet of our planet. All you have to do is look, wish, believe and love.
—Amin Maalouf, Samarkand

The only longing I still have is for the Orient, where I perhaps shall once end my life, rising in the west and setting in the east.
—King Leopold I of Belgium

It would be better to go west and die than to return to the east and live!

What do it matter where or ’ow we die,
So long as we’ve our ’ealth to watch it all?
—Jack London, “Sestina of the Tramp-Royal”

‘You shall see it all,’ answered my companion, and there was a note of sorrow in his voice.
—Dostoevsky, “The Dream of a Ridiculous Man”

Omne ignotum pro magnifico.
That which is not known is enchanting.
—Tacitus, Agricola

A man’s capable of understanding anything—how the æther vibrates, and what's going on in the sun—but how any other man can blow his nose differently from him, that he's incapable of understanding.
—Ivan Turgenev, Fathers and Sons

Elsewhere is a negative mirror. The traveler recognizes the little that is his, discovering the much he has not had and will never have.
—Italo Calvino, Invisible Cities

There is nothing stranger than to explore a city wholly different from all those one knows, since to do so is to explore a second and unsuspected self.
—Gene Wolfe, The Sword of the Lictor

It was curious to learn what they lived by, what moral and material resources nourished them, how they struggled with difficulties, how they evaded the laws.
—Boris Pasternak, Doctor Zhivago

I was him too, looking up and wondering. I was within and without, simultaneously enchanted and repelled by the inexhaustible variety of life.
—F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby

I had a very great mind to extract some little anecdote out of him—a desire natural to all who travel and make notes.
—Mikhail Lermontov, A Hero of Our Time

When a traveller tells of his exploits, he becomes a prisoner of the admiring chuckles of those who listen to him. He no longer dares to say ‘I don’t know’, or ‘I haven’t seen’ for fear of losing face. There are lies of which the ears are more guilty than the mouth.’
—Amin Maalouf, Leo Africanus

My coming to sit at their table was their adventure, and adventure is beyond price anyway.
—Jack London, The Road

‘And you?’ the Great Khan asked Polo, ‘you return from lands equally distant and you can tell me only the thoughts that come to a man who sits on his doorstep at evening to enjoy the cool air. What is the use, then, of all your traveling?’
—Italo Calvino, Invisible Cities

We are the Pilgrims, master; we shall go
Always a little further; it may be
Beyond that last blue mountain barred with snow
Across that angry or that glimmering sea,

White on a throne or guarded in a cave
There lies a prophet who can understand
Why men were born: but surely we are brave,
Who take the Golden Road to Samarkand. . . .

We travel not for trafficking alone;
By hotter winds our fiery hearts are fanned:
For lust of knowing what should not be known, 
We take the Golden Road to Samarkand.
—James Elroy Flecker

I’ve been everywhere, man,
I’ve been everywhere, man,
Crossed the deserts bare, man,
I’ve breathed the mountain air, man,
Travel, I’ve had my share, man,
I’ve been everywhere.
—Johnny Cash

I was embarked on a fairly aimless enterprise, the lazy indulgence of travel for its own sake. . . . So I had come 25,000 miles to be here, loafing.
—Paul Theroux, The Great Railway Bazaar

This trip will not last long . . . If only it could last forever!
—Thomas Mann, Death in Venice

It is not all pleasure, this exploration.
—Dr. David Livingston

‘Bother burglaring and everything to do with it! I wish I was at home in my nice hole by the fire, with the kettle just beginning to sing!’ It was not the last time that he wished that!
—J. R. R. Tolkien, The Hobbit

An inconvenience is only an adventure looked at the wrong way, and an adventure only an inconvenience wrongly considered.
—G. K. Chesterton

It’s very nice to go trav’ling,
But it’s oh so nice to come home.
—Frank Sinatra

After all, the grand tour is just the inspired man’s way of heading home.
—Paul Theroux, The Great Railway Bazaar

Nobody amongst us had any interest in men who went home. They were all right; they did not count any more. Going to Europe was nearly as final as going to Heaven. It removed a man from the world of hazard and adventure.
—Joseph Conrad, Victory

“Where to go now? Home? No, whether home or the grave, it’s all the same to me.”
—Alexander Ostrovsky, The Storm, 5:4 (1854)

He began by saying, in the tone in which a man would admit his inability to jump a twenty-foot wall, that he could never go home now.
—Joseph Conrad, Lord Jim

There is no real going back. Though I may come to the Shire, it will not seem the same; for I shall not be the same. I am wounded with knife, sting, and tooth, and a long burden. Where shall I find rest?
—J. R. R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings

This is still good country.
Yeah. I know it is. But it aint my country. . . .
Where is your country? he said.
I dont know, said John Grady. I dont know where it is. I dont know what happens to country.
—Cormac McCarthy, All the Pretty Horses

Was he not a Samana, a man who was at home nowhere, a pilgrim?
—Hermann Hesse, Siddhartha

The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head.
—Matthew 8:20

I come from no country, from no city, no tribe. I am the son of the road, my country is the caravan, my life the most unexpected of voyages.
—Amin Maalouf, Leo Africanus

Riders along stations are we, fated to arrive
And to depart,

With such long hopes spun over
Such short lives.

As you go from place to place, if you regard each one as your own home, they will all be genuine, for when circumstances come you must not try to change them.

Why should I feel lonely? is not our planet in the Milky Way?
—Henry David Thoreau, Walden

I know that a man must be at home somewhere before he can feel at home everywhere.
—Howard Thurman, The Luminous Darkness

But to me the exile is forever pitiful,
Like a prisoner, like someone ill. 
Dark is your road, wanderer, 
Like wormwood smells the bread of strangers.
—Anna Akhmatova (1916)

Exile becomes a bad habit.
—Vladimir Nabokov, Pale Fire

Exile is not simply a change of address. It is also a spiritual dislocation. Cut off from the roots of their culture and identity, refugees often feel that they have been cast adrift, have lost their orientation, that they are withering away and becoming insubstantial.
—Karen Armstrong, The Great Transformation

Often, the solitary one lives to find favor, mildness of the Lord, even though he, troubled in heart, through the ocean passage long has had to stir, with his hands, the frost-cold sea, to travel the path of exile. His fate is completely fixed.
The Wanderer

We meet our destiny on the road we take to avoid it.
—Carl Jung

But: all journeys were return journeys. The farther one travelled, the nakeder one got, until, towards the end, ceasing to be animated by any scene, one was most oneself, a man in a bed surrounded by empty bottles.
—Paul Theroux, The Great Railway Bazaar

No man is brave that has never walked a hundred miles. If you want to know the truth of who you are, walk until not a person knows your name. Travel is the great leveler, the great teacher, bitter as medicine, crueler than mirror-glass. A long stretch of road will teach you more about yourself than a hundred years of quiet introspection.

“The course of my life has shown me that I must go out and search. I think I may end in a monastery, but first—forty days in the wilderness. Or forty months. Or forty years.”
—John Masters

Para mi solo recorrer los caminos que tienen corazon, cualquier camino que tenga corazon. Por ahi yo recorro, y la unica prueba que vale es atravesar todo su largo. Y por ahi yo recorro mirando, mirando, sin aliento. (For me there is only the travelling on paths that have heart, on any path that may have heart. There I travel, and the only worth-while challenge is to traverse its full length. And there I travel looking, looking, breathlessly.)
—Don Juan in Carlos Castaneda, The Teachings of Don Juan

A much travelled man knows many things, and a man of great experience will talk sound sense. Someone who has never had his trials knows little, but the travelled man is master of every situation. I have seen many things on my travels, I have understood more than I can put into words.
—Ben Sira (Ecclesiasticus 34:9-10)

I thought that my voyage had come to its end at the last limit of my power—the path before me was closed, that provisions were exhausted and the time come to take shelter in a silent obscurity.
But I find that thy will knows no end in me. And when old words die out on the tongue, new melodies break forth from the heart; and when the old tracks are lost, new country is revealed with its wonders.
—Rabindranath Tagore

On the harp of the road what true melodies are being sounded! and its notes pierce the heart.

Siddhartha learned something new on every step of his path, for the world was transformed, and his heart was enchanted.
—Hermann Hesse, Siddhartha

‘My dear Bilbo! Something is the matter with you! You are not the hobbit that you were.’
—J. R. R. Tolkien, The Hobbit

‘But I came far. Miles can be years.’
—Ursula K. Le Guin, Tales from Earthsea

He rests. He has travelled.
—James Joyce, Ulysses

I cannot rest from travel: I will drink
Life to the lees: All times I have enjoy’d
Greatly, have suffer’d greatly, both with those
That loved me, and alone, on shore, and when
Thro’ scudding drifts the rainy Hyades
Vext the dim sea: I am become a name;
For always roaming with a hungry heart
Much have I seen and known; cities of men
And manners, climates, councils, governments,
Myself not least, but honour’d of them all;
And drunk delight of battle with my peers,
Far on the ringing plains of windy Troy.
I am a part of all that I have met;
Yet all experience is an arch wherethro’
Gleams that untravell’d world whose margin fades
For ever and forever when I move.
How dull it is to pause, to make an end,
To rust unburnish’d, not to shine in use!
As tho’ to breathe were life!
Alfred, Lord Tennyson, Ulysses

‘Don’t you worry about me! I am as happy now as I have ever been, and that is saying a great deal. But the time has come. I am being swept off my feet at last,’ he added, and then in a low voice, as if to himself, he sang softly in the dark:

The Road goes ever on and on
Down from the door where it began.
Now far ahead the Road has gone,
And I must follow, if I can,

Pursuing it with eager feet,
Until it joins some larger way
Where many paths and errands meet.
And whither then? I cannot say.
—J. R. R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings


Popular posts from this blog

Portraits of the Early Monsoon

Letters from Eastern Europe

Letters from the Melting Pot