The Traveler

A weekly poem, read by the author.
Feb. 21 2001 3:00 AM

The Traveler

At the top of the tree was what I wanted.
Fortunately, I had read books:
I knew I was being tested.

Advertisement

I knew nothing would work—
not to climb that high, not to force
the fruit down. One of three results must follow:
the fruit isn't what you imagined,
or it is but fails to satiate.
Or it is damaged in falling
and as a shattered thing torments you forever.

But I refused to be
bested by fruit. I stood under the tree,
waiting for my mind to save me.
I stood, long after the fruit rotted.

And after many years, a traveler passed by me
where I stood, and greeted me warmly,
as one would greet a brother. And I asked why,
why was I so familiar to him,
having never seen him?

And he said, "Because I am like you,
therefore I recognize you. I treated all experience
as a spiritual or intellectual trial
in which to exhibit or prove my superiority
to my predecessors. I chose
to live in hypothesis; longing sustained me.

In fact, what I needed most was longing, which you seem
to have achieved in stasis,
but which I have found in change, in departure."

Louise Glück's new book, A Village Life, will appear this September.

TODAY IN SLATE

History

The Self-Made Man

The story of America’s most pliable, pernicious, irrepressible myth.

Michigan’s Tradition of Football “Toughness” Needs to Go—Starting With Coach Hoke

Does Your Child Have “Sluggish Cognitive Tempo”? Or Is That Just a Disorder Made Up to Scare You?

The First Case of Ebola in America Has Been Diagnosed in Dallas

Why Indians in America Are Mad for India’s New Prime Minister

Damned Spot

Now Stare. Don’t Stop.

The perfect political wife’s loving gaze in campaign ads.

Building a Better Workplace

You Deserve a Pre-cation

The smartest job perk you’ve never heard of.

The GOP Senate Candidate in Iowa Doesn’t Want Voters to Know Just How Conservative She Really Is

Parents, Get Your Teenage Daughters the IUD

The XX Factor
Sept. 30 2014 12:34 PM Parents, Get Your Teenage Daughters the IUD
  News & Politics
Politics
Sept. 30 2014 5:19 PM Social Outcasts Republican candidates are retreating from debates on abortion, gay marriage, and contraception.
  Business
Building a Better Workplace
Sept. 30 2014 1:16 PM You Deserve a Pre-cation The smartest job perk you’ve never heard of.
  Life
Education
Sept. 30 2014 1:48 PM Thrashed Florida State’s new president is underqualified and mistrusted. But here’s how he can turn it around.
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 30 2014 12:34 PM Parents, Get Your Teenage Daughters the IUD
  Slate Plus
Behind the Scenes
Sept. 30 2014 3:21 PM Meet Jordan Weissmann Five questions with Slate’s senior business and economics correspondent.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 30 2014 4:45 PM Steven Soderbergh Is Doing Some Next-Level Work on The Knick
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 30 2014 6:43 PM Windows 8 Was So Bad That Microsoft Is Skipping Windows 9
  Health & Science
Medical Examiner
Sept. 30 2014 6:44 PM Ebola Was Already Here How the United States contains deadly hemorrhagic fevers.
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 30 2014 5:54 PM Goodbye, Tough Guy It’s time for Michigan to fire its toughness-obsessed coach, Brady Hoke.