Companions Along the Way
Elihu Burritt's Walk from London to John O'Groats (1863)
A skylark's tall ascension.
The Lady of the Lake, who gathers
her flowing gown and settles to the oars
to convey you across Abbotsferry
for a penny.
A donkey, panniers full
of mankind's low comedy and abuse.
Mary Queen of Scots, her dead face
reflected on Loch Leven, that crown
of water, her silver prison.
A peasant-wife who fed you barley cakes
while her daughter asked you every
thing about America.
Your Hebrew Psalter
with its untranslatable word
for the blessing of tree-cathedrals.
And God, who refuses to sit
on a stone-cold throne amid bloody-
stained saints' window-roses;
who walks with you all the way
from London, till there's nowhere farther
north to go.