Thursday, February 6, 2014

A Poetry Tasting: Advice for an American Going to England for the First Time

I'm so happy to share with you a long overdue poem for our poetry series with Kate! This poem captures the odd mix of happiness and sadness that make up nostalgia. Have you ever felt that after discovering and falling in love with a new place?

Advice for an American Going to England for the First Time
Words by Kate Lindblom

If you ever travel to England, 
don't forget to pack 
a pair of long, wooly socks 
and an overcoat 
for the July weather.

Bring a sturdy coin purse 
for all the pounds and the pence 
you'll constantly examine and trade.
Don't worry. They will have things 
like cats and postage stamps 
and small rocks and windows 
and drops of dew like you're used to. 
Your homesickness will be brief.

You won't need a translator 
to understand British words and phrases 
such as “bits and bobs” or “popping in.” 
But do understand that “party favors” 
can mean more 
than colorful streamers and paper hats.

If you see citizens enjoying picnics in a graveyard 
with their blue bicycles propped against headstones, 
Do not be alarmed. 
Also, try not to feel uneasy 
eating some grapes 
or buying a trinket 
or simply sitting down 
in a building older than your known family tree. 
Remember: it's not a museum, it's for living. 
And it doesn't need a power washing.

Try the leek soup, 
try the blood pudding, 
try the crumpets, 
try the grilled tomatoes. 
You'll find them 
and strange, 
perhaps in that order.

Ponder over 
the British love affair with 
red and black currants 
and marmite 
and crisps that taste like prawns 
and not ketchup.

You should just start loving and expecting 
hot beverages like you might a pleasant breeze. 
Embrace coffee and tea and milk and cubes of sugar 
as you already do biscuits.

Enjoy hard cider, 
its sweetness and tartness and sparkle combined. 
Enjoy the Devonshire cream 
which you never knew existed 
and which will be hard to find 
back in the States.
Go ahead and take 42 rolls of film. 
You'll want to remember 
that amount of snails in one place 
and the way the sunlight shone on the grass 
that one afternoon. 
You'll need to show you were at King's Chapel, 
and Windsor Castle too, 
whether the queen was or not. 
You'll try to capture the feelings you'll have: 
awe, confusion, delight, camaraderie, 
true and constant. 
You will not fully succeed 
but the images will help combat the sadness 
after you have left.


  1. This is a great poem! I'm from London so I wouldn't call it falling in love with a new place but I definitely do love it. I've felt that falling in love with a new place before though! Paris and Egypt for sure! They are both such beautiful places but then, the whole world pretty much is :-)


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