"Wayfarers All" by Kenneth Grahame
is a provocative and imaginitive passage from The Wind in the Willows
. The travels of the the Sea Rat, this seafarer, conjure up almost fantastic images in the mind. The descriptions are wonderfully creative in describing the sounds of the sea, the simplicity of his life on the ocean, or the grandiose countries he has visited. It is very entertaining, and gives one a view like a gateway into the past of the early 1900's. For example, one of my favorite passages describing the city of Venice
from the Sea Rat
. . . the sun rose royally behind us, we rode in Venice down a path of gold. O, Venice is a fine city, wherein a rat can wander at his ease and take his pleasure! Or, when weary of wandering, can sit at the edge of the Grand Canal at night, feasting with his friends, when the air is full of music and the sky full of stars, and the lights flash and shimmer on the polished steel prows of the swaying gondolas, packed so that you could walk across the canal on them from side to side!"
The passage of "Wayfarers All" is about the Sea Rat reminscing to his entraced brethren, the Water Rat. It leaves one to wonder exactly what the author, Kenneth Grahame, intentions were. It is certainly meant to raise the spirits with light-hearted humor, and longing accounts of years current and past. The phrase, "Take the Adventure, heed the call, now ere the irrevocable moment passes!" in particular stayed in my memory. It then went on to describe a "blithesome step forward" and "out of the old life and into the new." It struck me as if the author was urging the people reading this to herald the advance in technology and the spirit of looking forward, or merely go on a journey to know oneself.
The emotion that seems tangled into the very words is a bittersweet sense of nostalgia of the Sea Rat reciting his tale. When he draws to an end with "You can easily overtake me on that road, for you are young, and I am ageing and will go softly." It grasped my consideration that Grahame certainly set the mood as nostalgic and content with that as one of the closing statements. This Wind in the Willows excerpt looks to be written in a way to make the reader step back and think about it. Contemplatation is urged after looking over these abstract musings of the Sea Rat. I had a longing for the past, a wish that I could have been there to see it, and a pang of disappoint that these times are indeed bygone.
Would it not be marvelous if I could go on one of those ships that the Sea Rat speaks so fondly of? Even something as unentertaining as a transit ship only so long as it drifted among the unpredictable waves of the ocean. It would be bound for a frenzied shipping port in Catalonia where I would stealthily climb offboard. I would-legally-board a traveling boat headed towards the black, rocky shores of the Galapagos Islands. The islands look inhospitable at first, until one gets into the mainland. The famous Galapagos finches teem among the branches in the mountainous landscape. If one looks closely, one can see the variety of the animals hiding or flaunting themselves throughout the land. A brilliant red flamingo, slow-moving tortoises, shy birds, or indifferent marine iguanas. But I am musing much like the Sea Rat in the story.
I enjoyed reading Kenneth Grahame's rendition of "Wayfarers All." It is as aweing in its true and pleasurable depictions of his adventures of the stormy or serene sea as the reality. The message behind it, the intense and shifting feeling, even the charming personalities of the Sea Rat and the Water Rat. It left me with a sense of satisfaction, of completion, and a few moments of gentle reflection.
". . . and at last I will surely see you coming, eager and light-hearted, with all the South in your face!"