Notations from The Gentle Art of Tramping by Stephen Graham

What I thought only on page 4 of the text, might leave me for a shitty distasteful feeling that I would wish to scrub from my mind and body as one would a rape. I took a great amount of time, even in my sleep, considering the context of this book, that had a copy date of 1926. I decided to be amazed to wonder over how the writer thought and how much I will never know if he wrote with the view and influence of humans present in his social grouping at the time. I wonder, even, if he might have been considered a rogue, bluntly writing as he willed his hand to do.

“…They learn little on their wanderings beyond how to cadge, how to steal, how to avoid dogs and the police. They are not pilgrims but outlaws, and many would be highway robbers had they the vitality and the pluck necessary to hold up wayfarers. Most of them are but poor walkers, so that the word tramp is often misapplied to them….”

Later, on page 29, he writes, “…Class is the most disgusting institution of civilization, because it puts barriers between man and man….”

The remaining notes, from my best recollection, are simply things that struck me.

“So when we look on a river we are affected by its hidden relationship to our own life. The river interprets our mood. The road suggests God as a taskmaster who would have us work; the river suggests Him as a poet who would have us live in poetry. The Creator must be a poet–not a General or a Judge or a Master Builder; there is so much of pure poetry in His creation….”

“What is a tramping day if it does not liberate a voice, so that you can sing out your soul to the free sky.”

“The heart can be lifted up by poetry even more than by song. And the inner meaning and the sense of a poem becomes one’s own on the march when it lends it rhythms and verbal emotions to express the hidden yearnings of one’s own being.”

“The life opens us with its very breadth. Is your friend too thin; do not diet him under a white ceiling, but give him air. Air will fill him. It is not the air alone that cures and fills, but what you breathe in with the air. You breathe in the spirit of the open. You breathe in the wideness of the sky; you reach out to the free horizon. It makes a man big, it builds a man within.”

“In the long halt, therefore, one has not stopped living, because one has ceased going onward. You get poised on your center. You feel the origins of joy and pain–deep down at the heart’s core, the place from which something in you is welling up all the while, welling up and overflowing, flowing away in waves and tides, to break on a mystical shore.”

“Self-expression is life. What gives more satisfaction to one’s being than to have expressed oneself.”

“Each day Nature puts her magic mirror in our hands. ‘Oh child, do you see yourself today?'”

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