Moving on

A nostalgic cascade poem, poem on the cusp, for the dverse open link night.


Our journey moves on, no deep roots have grown,

The earth that clings is not the soil of home,

Broad leaves that shade will fall with winter frost,

We follow tides, besprayed with ocean foam.


For generations feet have trod the paths

Of many lands and found some brief respite,

In restless shadow of familiar hills,

Our journey moves on, no deep roots have grown.


The houses borrowed cheek by jowl with kin,

Do little more than gather ghosts and tears,

A hollow shell that echoes with old songs,

The earth that clings is not the earth of home.


The pang of memories will linger long,

In heartache when the summer roses bloom,

The trees that blossom, black and bare will be,

And leaves that shade will fall with winter frost.


Bright sunlight slanting though the rowan trees,

The scent of gorse that’s carried on the breeze—

To find that peace and hold it in the heart,

We follow tides, besprayed with ocean foam.


Published by

Jane Dougherty

I used to do lots of things I didn't much enjoy. Now I am officially a writer. It's what I always wanted to be.

47 thoughts on “Moving on”

    1. Some people can put down roots anywhere. I suppose it depends why you move in the first place. If you’re looking for material comforts, you can find/buy them. Maybe some people don’t have any of the other kind of roots.

      1. I think we are at the end of our line. A cousin my age and his wife, childless, another cousin, widowed and childless. Mama in a nursing home, two sisters, childless and me…childless. At this point, I do not care about meeting any more cousins!

      2. Yes it does. From Norway to England to the New World on the coast of NC. But I do not know these people. Our branch split off in the late 1890’s

      3. Your history is very different to mine where we know which village each of the grandparents came from, and who is still there. They were loath to admit that they had left and wouldn’t be going back.

      1. I have always felt like the Paul Young song, ‘Wherever I lay my hat, that’s my home’. To me, home is a place on the inside and it moves with me wherever I go.

  1. I love this form and you do it very well. I think I see that people often come home to their roots. I think that finding the peace is equally as important. I suspect the last stages of the journey are always troubled waters if there is no peace in the heart.

    1. Thank you, Alison. One of the great tragedies is that it is so difficult to go back. The people left behind resent the one who left and made enough money to do what they were never able to do by staying—be comfortable. Times change, memories aren’t always reliable, and is going back to first base what we really want anyway?

      1. I have come home and lost so much in the process and had to use every ounce of energy to survive and make it good, but this is where I belong, it is some kind of primeval sense that I had to return whatever the cost and consequence. I have completed a circle, not just for me, but for my mum who was never able or inclined to do it. Such emotions from such a beautiful piece of work. XX

      2. There is a primitive urge to go home, and some do make it work. An uncle who emigrated to Canada went back home successfully. It can be done. I hope it all works out for you 🙂

  2. Reading this poem, am left thinking, my paternal side of the family, are nomads, searching for a better life. My current apartment is, the longest that I have been, in one place. in my life, at 10 years. My opa and oma, left Amsterdam, in June 1952, with 9 of their 10 children, settling in northern Alberta, before moving to southern Ontario. Myself, I have lived, from Richmond, BC, to Ottawa, Ontario, with various other communities, inbetween. For me, home is, where I lay my head down, to sleep.

    1. I think that’s quite typical of the emigrant mentality. When both side of the family are from the same place, the memories converge and possible the historical line is stronger. It lasts for generations, a hankering to go back, as if there is another place where we would feel truly ‘home’.

  3. The pang of memories will linger long,
    In heartache when the summer roses bloom,
    The trees that blossom, black and bare will be,
    And leaves that shade will fall with winter frost.

    I can truly feel the wistfulness here. Beautifully poignant.

  4. I feel like Americans are particularly rootless. It shows in the way they treat the land…the world in general for that matter.
    But your poem is like a circle, perhaps we all just journeying around the same path, and the particular spot on this planet we cling to is irrelevant in the end. (K)

    1. Americans were culturally encouraged to reject their roots and put down new ones, I think. Some people seemed to keep them longer. A lot of Irish and Italians went back, I know that, not very successfully for the most part. American culture is overwhelming. Even people who think they have retained their grandparents’ culture find that they don’t fit in ‘back home’ any more. Possibly because their grandparents’ culture doesn’t exist any longer.

      1. Even 2nd generation Latinos speak “Spanglish”. It’s in the air. Which is why it’s so silly that Trump and his followers have this ideal of a White Christian European America. It never existed. We’re all mongrels.

      2. Why stop at white? Have they forgotten how every European country had quotas? That the Catholic countries and Jews from anywhere had far lower quotas that the Protestant countries? Americans are Americans, and to us foreigners, the American culture is so overwhelmingly American that we don’t see any difference between any of you, Black, Hispanic, Asian or European origin.

      3. I agree. They are off on a planet I don’t understand at all. We, the whole wide conglomerate of us, have far more in common with each other than with any of the countries our ancestors may have come from.

      4. Even the people who are desperate to ‘belong’ to the old country find they just don’t fit in. When I worked in Paris I knew an Irish American with very virulent pro-IRA views who had gone back to Ireland and not been welcomed. He just didn’t understand that support for the provos was minority, and most people hated the violence. And they very much resented the Americans sticking their oar in and funding the violence from a safe distance. He ended up moving to Paris, bitter and disillusioned.

  5. I like to be rooted in values but checking out adventures too ~ Love the form and the last stanza speaks to me Jane ~ Thanks for joining us ~

    1. Thanks, Grace. Everyone has a different view of the past and places in the past. For some, the place is so mingled with the people, that it’s hard to pick them apart.

  6. When I was born, my roots were dead. No grandparents on either side and uncles and aunts were ‘adopted.’
    Strictly though, I had roots, that of my mum and dad and three branches born of them, including me. My children and grandchildren continue the spread. My sis and bro’ are somewhat distant, but they are there.
    On my husbands side, the roots run deep in that there is a multitude of, for want for a better word, of offspring. But these branches are selfish and play little in our growth, our family tree. They live for themselves and play little part in our world and as such, have proved their un-importance.
    Nevertheless, I feel the love and warmth of my immediate family – and who could want for more?
    Anna :o]

    1. I think so much depends on how much a generation feels an attachment to ‘somewhere else’. Parents pass on history that they had from their parents, but it probably boils down to how much attachment they feel to the place they live, and how much nostalgia they have inherited for that ‘other place’.People who leave their homes through necessity almost inevitably look back more than those who have lived for generations in the same place. Then again, like my parents in law, she and her family had never moved out of her village and couldn’t even imagine doing it—he whose family had wandered all over Europe was quite content to cut himself off from his own history and adopt hers. Everyone is different 🙂

  7. This wanderer is of a particular locale—the abandonment of things that ring of the British Isles — though the heart which keeps forsaking and moving on is of the 60 million displaced citizens of this world who cannot say and have nowhere to go. Amen.

    1. A small part of the British Isles has a special pull for me, and my heart, like yours goes out to all those who are still being forced from their homes and find a welcome nowhere.

  8. I hate generalizations, especially as an American that tills the soil, plants gardens, plants trees and nourishes the Land I come across and some I own. It is so damn easy to caste sins onto other countries…I am thinking of this: something about a log in your own eye before you criticize the speck in another’s. It’s the fad today to jump upon America and Americans. However, people forget, especially Europeans that we had to become refugees because we were starving and dying ‘in the old country’. I am very proud that my ancestors came by steerage, and my grandmother going back (steerage) 5 times pregnant to bring more relatives and villagers out of Hungary. This was in 1905. Strong and courageous people. Some of us don’t feel about leaving ‘home’ because we don’t want to relive the terror of Nazism, feudalism, pogroms, etc. Those memories trump the softer ones. However, Jane, you poem left me with a great sadness.

    1. Hmm. I don’t see anything that contradicts what you just said. Nobody leaves home and chooses to emigrate for the fun of it. All those who emigrated, (and not just to America, there was massive internal migration within Europe all through the nineteenth century and the first half of the twentieth) were looking for a better life. It didn’t stop a lot of them hankering after what they had left though, exactly because they had been forced to leave. Some obviously like the Jews forced out by Nazism found that home didn’t exist anymore. Others who were driven out by poverty yearned to earn enough money to go back and pick up where they left off just not to be poor. Those are the people I know, and that is the notion behind the poem.

      1. RIGht now I am sensitive to the slings and onslaughts of other nations against my country. My comment was kicked off by the comment of one of your readers. We must remember that other nations, especially England, the Dutch, etc. have long centuries of abusing other races, other nations. And yes, I know all about the Jews from personal experience. And I had aunts and cousins who are very attached to Hungary and visit almost every year. I don’t have much curiosity because my mother was English/Irish and stuck up her nose at the Hungarians…all middle Europeans. But I understand what the notion behind your poem, and I liked the poem very much. No slight on you. A evocative poem in the max.

      2. Every migrant’s experience is different, as you say. They generally end up tolerated as long as they’re useful and then they merge into the common culture and we forget they were immigrants in the first place. It’s a subject that still causes a lot of pain though.

      3. Agreed, Jane. What we are seeing today is rather ‘in your face’ and is hard to comprehend in the short of it. But perhaps our present migrants will also do as what has been done in the US and I am sure in Europe before. Problem is that terrorism by a certain element of migrants make it harder for people to ‘accept’ these cultures. I don’t think this ever was an issue before for our nation. But we are a melting pot, and we adjust. That is what happens in the States. We adjust. But not without issues. The world today, and the issues are quite overwhelming.

      4. I hadn’t been thinking about Islam. Personally, I think it’s looking at it the wrong way to associate terrorism, radical Islam and refugees/immigrants. We’ve had terrorism in France since well before the rise of radical Islam and it’s been political, associated with French foreign policy. When I lived in England we had IRA terrorism which had nothing to do with religion, but a lot to do with British foreign policy and poverty. It’s home grown, not imported. But it is a very convenient excuse for the people who dislike the idea of immigration altogether to point to the isolated cases where some nutter has got over a border and committed murder. I live surrounded by muslims and most of them aren’t even religious never mind radical. The local Immam has to have police protection because he’s under a fatwah for being too progressive. Islam is not my favourite religion, but then nor is Christianity. I’d quite happily see them both quietly fade away and leave people to make their own minds up about what is ‘good’ and what is ‘bad’. I fear global warming much more than I fear my neighbours.

      5. Some of what you write I agree with…especially about religion. All of them. However, when you have the issue of Islamic terror affect your family, perhaps you would feel differently. But to each her own, until it isn’t.

      6. I’m sorry, I didn’t realise you had been hit by a terrorist attack. My sister was in the palace of Westminster the other week when the people on Westminster bridge were attacked, and she was in the temple at Luxor (on scaffolding working) when a busload of German tourists were murdered. I was in the Paris métro during the terror campaign of the 1980s, when Tati was bombed and lived just down the road from Goldenberg’s restaurant that was bombed in 1982. We all see these things differently. I still don’t fear my neighbours, but I understand that you might have a different reaction.

      7. My husband lost a family member in the North Tower, 9/11 attack. Coming from Princeton, New Jersey, we lost 60 residents in that attack, some I knew from childhood. And it’s not my neighbors I fear. It’s bigger than that.

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