In this first week in Lent my anthology Word in the Wilderness introduces poems about pilgrimage itself and our life as pilgrimage. We will reflect on maps and mapping, on how outer journeys and inner ones are linked, on what it is we learn from the landscapes through which we walk.
Among familiar poems such as Walter Raleigh’s Passionate Man’s Pilgrimage, there are ones unknown to me. I especially liked Holly Ordway’s “Maps”. I was particularly struck by the line on the egocentricity of GPS (and by extension Google Maps etc.):
Antique maps, with curlicues of inkAs borders, framing what we know, like pagesFrom a book of traveler’s tales: look,Here in the margin, tiny ships at sail.No-nonsense maps from family trips: each stateTraced out in colour-coded numbered highways,A web of roads with labeled city dotsPunctuating the route and its slow stories.Now GPS puts me right at the centre,A Ptolemaic shift in my perspective.Pinned where I am, right now, somewhere, I turnAnd turn to orient myself. I haveDirections calculated, maps at hand:Hopelessly lost till I look up at last.