LUXEMBOURG

In the spring, among the flowers,
The world itself now newly towers−
Not the globe which Galileo knew,
But the flatter map Mercator drew:
Mountains, the Manila Trench, Paris,
As linear as any sea−
Hundreds of assembled prints
Imprinted with the continents,
The wear and tear of foreign travel
In perspective on the gravel−
An intercontinental trip
Now a schoolgirl’s hop and skip,
The vasty deep so infinite
Now traversed in just a minute,
Magellan’s ocean, once so great,
A breeze to circumnavigate,
Providing for the sedentary viewer
The traditional grand tour
With a minimum of cost
And small chance of getting lost
As long as he is careful not to stub
His clumsy toe on any urban hub
And create from his inept intrusion
Later on the dim confusion
Where a moment’s carelessness
Causes our antithesis.
Explorers haven’t much to lose
Unless you count of course their shoes:
A false step by one impulsive boot
Could soil our planet: Don’t Pollute
(The objective being not to trust
Earth with earth, or dust with dust):
We must tour the globe like barefoot satyrs
According to its world’s creators,
Who leave us signs that clearly presage
The worldly authors’ hidden message:
Jumping, dancing is forbidden,
Lest enthusiasts by guilt be ridden,
But in its place our feet vacation
And step out on any nation,
Causes and events entwined
By the tourist and the tour combined,
Drawing morals from the blank terrain
By a soldier lurching over Spain;
The Japanese in matching clothes
Taking pictures of their toes;
Descending on the tiny Falklands:
Large Chileans with their Walkmans;
A Swedish tanner like a buoy
Anchored off Tahiti Nui;
A ballerina stretching over Thailand;
A mother waving from an island−
The flat globe filled with commentaries,
Like sleeping cats on the Canaries.
What’s the purpose of such preening
Without a supplemental world of
meaning?
Students saunter blindly on it.
A gloomy poet writes a sonnet,
Our soul’s geographic basis
Put exactly in its places:
As an intrepid infant trader
Stumbles on the blue equator;
His parents tiptoe at the poles,
Our future written on their soles,
As it seems the whole intention
In fashioning this one dimension,
Instead of looking at the ground
And guessing that it might be round,
Is once again to make it flat,
And raise a rounder world from that.