The Roads to Rome


I don’t say it’s a long way home

Because I don’t know home exists.

Wandering in forests, confused by mists,

I’ve heard that all roads lead to Rome:

Maybe that legend is a lie

And all roads lead to a silent shore;

But memories of a light, a door

Suggest there was a home, but why

The road to it will always twist

And turn away and run instead

Towards the city of powerful dead

I cannot say, but having missed

No pointing tree or flying crow,

No sudden cold or smear of blood,

No reddening sunset, opening bud,

Maybe I’ve found the home I know.

But carving on a rotten log

Tells of an easy way to rest

While still the broken branch points west

Over the river blurred in fog.

This poem can be interpreted in different ways, but let me rule out one:  it isn’t about a Catholic conversion! It is about a sense of a meaningful journey and a home to return to, interpreted in different ways, about doubt and death (all roads lead to a silent shore) and about diversions from the way, characterised by a material Rome of wealth and power. I would rate this as one of my four or five favourite poems I’ve written, along with the next one I’m going to post.

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  1. Mohsin A.K.

     /  September 27, 2011

    Hi Simon, read your comment and I agree with the input. Phones have become an integral part of our life… one can forget a kid at home not panic as much as he/she would when they leave their phone at home… I really like your poetry as well. I write too and will soon post something of my own. “The Roads to Rome” also points to something we all forget, our end goals. Yes, the journey is important too but it is useless if it wont lead us to the end goal. This poem makes you think if you really know what your destination is.

    • Thanks, Mohsin. I wanted to include the idea in “The Roads to Rome” that the journey experience might actually be the end, which is reflected in the last but one verse, which was the original ending. But when I re-read it, I thought, “That’s too neat. I don’t really believe that!” and added the current ending. The same thing happened with “Spirit Mountain”: I added “But a trickle of Welsh blood speaking…” on first re-read because I was uncomfortable with the original conclusion.

      I look forward to seeing your poetry.



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