I have just finished reading a wonderful book of Laurie Lee’s travels in Spain during the mid 1930s, when he walked out of his Gloucester village, wound up in Spain, walked for hundreds of miles across Spain to Andalusia—at which point Spain erupted in its Civil War. He was evacuated by a British destroyer in July 1936. His book, As I Walked Out One Midsummer Morning, is a travel classic and gives a better picture of life in Spain than I have ever read. Doing further research on him, I discovered that Lee also wrote poetry, among which was the following poem about his travels:
Home from Abroad
Far-fetched with tales of other worlds and ways,
My skin well-oiled with wines of the Levant,
I set my face into a filial smile
To greet the pale, domestic kiss of Kent.
But shall I never learn? That gawky girl,
Recalled so primly in my foreign thoughts,
Becomes again the green-haired queen of love
Whose wanton form dilates as it delights.
Her rolling tidal landscape floods the eye
And drowns Chianti in a dusky stream;
he flower-flecked grasses swim with simple horses,
The hedges choke with roses fat as cream.
So do I breathe the hayblown airs of home,
And watch the sea-green elms drip birds and shadows,
And as the twilight nets the plunging sun
My heart’s keel slides to rest among the meadows.
For all his travels, Lee ended up in the Gloucestershire village from where he started. How curious!