All the great voyagers return
Homeward as on an arc of thought;
Home like a ruby beacon burns
As they crest wind, scale wave, soar air;
All the great voyagers return,
Though we who wait never have done
Fearing the piteous accidents,
The coral reef sharp as the bones
It has betrayed, fate’s cormorant
Unleashed, whose diving’s never done.
Even the voyager of mind
May fail beneath behemoth’s weight;
Oh, the world’s bawdy carcass blinds
All but the boldest, rots the sails
And swamps the voyaging of the mind.
But all the great voyagers return
Home like the hunter, like the hare
To its burrow; below, earth’s axle turns
To speed their coming, the following fair
Winds bless their voyage, blow their safe return.
Barbara Howes, “The Homecoming” from In the Cold Country. Copyright 1954 by Barbara Howes. Reprinted with the permission of Grove/Atlantic, Inc.
Source: Collected Poems 1945-1990