“Poetry is the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings: it takes its origin from emotion recollected in tranquility.“
-William Wordsworth, Lyrical Ballads, 1802
Perhaps Wordsworth’s insight into poetry also extends to blogs and what I am calling “Itinerary Lit.” For me, at any rate, the journey required a kind of presence not conducive to blogging: long driving distances, the delight of being away from email, the challenges of matching the right plug to depleted batteries, spotty access to email in B-and-Bs and convents, all these factors convened such that I decided to wait on writing this blog until I returned home.
This part of the campaign was a journey of 4, 450 kilometers–about 2, 765 miles. In Malory’s narrative of Arthur’s Roman War account, this journey took about a year and a half. The first half of Arthur’s journey (Winchester, York, London, Sandwich, Barfleur, Mt. St. Michel, Paris), I did in segments in 2008, over the course of approximately two weeks. The second half–following the itinerary of Arthur and his knights from Paris to Rome and back to London–I did this summer, in a continuous journey of about two weeks’ time.
It was a lot of ground to cover and I just gave myself over to the experience–re-reading Malory, walking and driving the itinerary, writing in my journal, learning about the particular places-Champagne, Alemayn (Germany), Lake Lucerne, St. Gotthard’s pass, the mysterious “Virvyn,” Milan, Lombardy, Tuscany, Spoleto, Vyterbo, Rome–that Malory called out for his version of Arthur’s journey to Rome.
This time my journey, not Arthur’s, began in Oxford for a colloquium entitled The Language of Maps (see next post).