In the journey of the hero (or heroine) of a thousand faces, the homecoming is often the most difficult passage. A large part of the Odyssey is devoted to the trials and battles of the hero after he makes it back to his homeland. I wrote a poem about this at the end of leading a deep adventure into soul recovery and soul remembering:
The Return Journey
You found the courage
to turn on the tiger who pursued you
to fight with him hand to claw
to be swallowed and spat out
and to win through your losing
reforged in a shining body
worthy now to take his heart
and call him as your unswerving ally.
It is not enough.
Out of your yearning
you danced into worlds of enchantment
you drank from the breasts of the Goddess
where kisses flower into hyacinths
caresses stream into rivers of milk
every nerve ending is a partner in love
and hearts are never broken.
You discovered that dreaming is magic.
But it’s not enough.
As a confident traveler, you learned
to shrug off your bodyshirt
and ride the World Tree
as your private elevator
to soar through the face of the moon
dance with the Bear among the stars
to enter the sun behind the sun
and fly on wings of paradise over a fresh world.
You’re out there, but it’s not enough
Out of your calling
you braved the gates of the Underworld
and crossed the borderless river on your heartbeat
and tricked the Dark Angel in his own realm.
When you stood, defeated, before the impregnable walls
of Death itself, you raised a song from your heart and belly
that called help from the highest heaven
to pluck a soul from the cold recreation yard
where nobody plays new games.
But you must make the return journey.
The way back is full of diversions.
Some will detain you with pink kisses;
some will drag on you as drowning men
You’ll find the markers have been moved, or stolen.
Maybe you’ll have gone so deep, or so high
you can’t remember which world you left your body in.
Or you’ll rebel against returning to a world
where hearts are broken, and the earth defiled.
You will return. This is your soul’s agreement.
Now you have danced with the Bear
you will bring healing to the world of pain.
Now you have traveled the roads of soul
you will help the soul-lost to bring their children home.
Now you have flown as Apollo on a shining arrow
you will bring light into the shadow world.
Now you know the gates and paths of the Real World
you will make bridges for others.
You will bring it all home.
Returning, you will remember your mission:
To serve the soul’s remembering;
to go among people as dream ambassador
opening ways for soul to be heard and honored.
Let the world be your playground, not your prison.
Starchild ,plunge with delight into the warm, loamy Earth,
Renew the marriage of Earth and Sky,
Follow your heart-light, dance your dreams,
Commit poetry every day, in every way.
Now you are home.
Odysseus and Calypso by Arnold Bocklin
Your finest poem yet. It brought tears to my eyes. Thanks again for the reminder that we must not rest on our laurels. The Great Work is a continual process.
The line "ride the World Tree / as your private elevator" brought a knowing smile. "Out of your calling / you braved the gates of the Underworld" made my gut twinge and my nerves extend as I was there and have heard that call. The diversions are known by all and all too well. What do these journeys mean if we can't bring a part of them home with us, and do something with them to "Renew the Marriage of Earth and Sky"?
As part of my own journey home, I didn't understand the poignancy of Odysseus coming home to Ithaca and the Land he knew and his Wife (and how these two are connected) until I was married myself. We are married indeed in and by many things: Husband, Wife, Human, Earth.
This is luminous. I love this part:
"Returning, you will remember your mission:/To serve the soul’s remembering"... Yes. Thank you.
Hi Robert . . .
What a delightful poem! I mean it. It is wonderful! You had something to say, and you said it very well. You did it with meaning and beauty. It has been many years since I read the Odyssey, but your poem brings back memories of what the story is about.
I printed a copy. I am going to keep that one.
And I love the ending of your poem: "Follow your heart-light, dance your dreams,/Commit poetry every day, in every way."
"Dance your dreams," What a delightful thing to say. Thank you for posting your poem.
Truly an amazing poem. This touched me on so many levels and brought tears to my eyes too. I feel as though I've journeyed in similar places. The struggles, the dreams, the mission. Our lives. Thank you for sharing this with us.
Oh my. I am soon to visit my long-estranged elderly mother who lives near Ithaca (NY). My own "homecoming" has been fraught with perils and they're not over yet, but you inspire me, once again, that I can do it. There are many other personal messages for me in this poem -- my middle name is Laurel! I would love to see it published. Thank you.
Thank you!! Also, I want to thank Justin for expressing everything I felt while reading your poem. I'll copy it on my desktop and read it as a reminder. In addition I can confess, that I had a strange feeling of the beginning of a new sequence of synchronisities following this poem...
Justin, Lynne, Don, Nina, Margie, Alla - thank you so much.
Nancy - Good luck with your own amazing journey to Ithaca.
I am reminded of Cavafy's version:
Always keep Ithaca in your mind.
To arrive there is your ultimate goal.
But do not hurry the voyage at all.
It is better to let it last for many years;
and to anchor at the island when you are old,
rich with all you have gained on the way,
not expecting that Ithaca will offer you riches.
Ithaca has given you the beautiful voyage...
And if you find her poor, Ithaca has not deceived you.
Wise as you have become, with so much experience,
you must already have understood what Ithacas mean.
Robert, thank you (through tears). You are so right.
Today, 10.10.10, I have been in the vortex and reading so many inspiring and joyful words. I am very thankful to have found your poetry. For me it is the most synchronistic and beautiful item for the day!
Ah, Robert! To me too this poem says it all.
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