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Quotations about Wanderlust

Welcome to my page of quotations about wanderlust. The word actually has several meanings — a strong desire to explore the world, hiking, wanting to be close to nature in the springtime or autumn, restlessness, outdoor adventure, experiencing the unknown, just plain wandering, and formerly it was used when referring to runaway children who would suddenly catch a train to wherever it was going. But for whatever reason you've come to this page, please enjoy your literary travels.  —ღ Terri

A wild desire to visit Vagabondia — a fever of unrest which the Germans name wanderlust — sometimes seizes even reputable earthlings. ~William Valentine Kelley, "Vagabondia," Down the Road and Other Essays, 1911

She wondered how long she must stay in this room and this house. Outside the window the trees beckoned, the light was fair upon the river; in the south hung a cloud, silver-hued, and shaped like two mighty wings. Audrey, with her eyes upon the cloud, thought, "If the wings were mine, I could reach the mountain to-night." ~Mary Johnston (1870–1936), Audrey, 1901

The symbol of joy to-day is travel. There is a "wanderlust" that infects the blood. ~Rollin A. Sawyer, "The Soul's Play-Spell," 1907

October. Rabbitbrush in full bloom. The tumbleweeds on the move (that longing to be elsewhere, elsewhere)... ~Edward Abbey, Desert Solitaire, 1968

The night was immense, clear, and ice-cold after that smoky little hut. I should not have many more of these desert nights of stars. I was not sorry, because I am too restless to develop any loyalty even to a place I really enjoy, and I go away easily because I have not to pull at the least tendril of a root. I could drift rootlessly about the world, like the tumbleweeds I had seen down here. I am not proud of this. I was thinking... that I should be healthier and stronger in mind, better able to set a course and stick to it, both more patient and more cunning in my art, if I could call a piece of countryside my own place and draw sustenance from its soil. But I was old enough to know that such is not my nature... I must suck what nourishment I can get out of the wind instead of drawing it richly from the soil, and at the very end I shall still be discovering what it is I want to do and planning the miraculous leap towards it. But if I cannot be loyal, I can be grateful. ~J. B. Priestley, Midnight on the Desert: A Chapter of Autobiography, 1917

Wandering re-establishes the original harmony which once existed between man and the universe. ~Anatole France, unverified

These are the joys of the open road—
For him who travels without a load.
~Bliss Carman, "The Joys of the Road," Songs from Vagabondia, 1894

There are few who have not suffered attacks of wanderlust... that strange seasonal restlessness... the itching foot, as it is called out West. Whether the desire to roam the earth is prompted by an instinct inherited from our nomadic forebears or by those local conditions which so frequently make travel advisable, it is certain that once the desire is temporarily gratified the disease becomes permanent... ~Mark Daniels, "The Sequoia National Park," in American Forestry, 1916

Wild heart, child heart, all of the world your home.
Glad heart, mad heart, what can you do but roam?
~Robert W. Service, "The Wanderlust," Rhymes of a Rolling Stone, 1912

I hate that snail-shell domesticity. I like to see the Wanderlust triumphant... The one word in the language that seems to me to epitomize the sum total of enjoyment is the sturdy little Saxon word "go." ~Rollin Lynde Hartt, "A New England Hill Town," in The Atlantic Monthly, 1899

And we go — go — go away from here!
On the other side of the world we're overdue!
'Send the road is clear before you when the old Spring-fret comes o'er you...
~Rudyard Kipling, "The Feet of the Young Men," 1897

In the pause that followed, the night's soft voices sang to them tellingly. On the other side of the short woods the creek trickled and rippled its restless luring message, a message which finds responsive echo in the uneasy wanderlust lurking in every human heart. ~Marion Hill, Georgette, 1912

I heard the hylas in the bottomlands
Piping a reed-note in the praise of Spring:
The South-wind brought the music on its wing,
      As 't were a hundred strands
Of guttural gold smitten of elfin hands;
Or of sonorous silver, struck by bands,
      Anviled within the earth,
Of laboring gnomes shaping some gem of worth.
      Sounds that seemed to bid
            The wildflowers wake;
      Unclose each dewy lid,
            And starrily shake
      Sleep from their airy eyes
            Beneath the loam,
      And, robed in dædal dyes,
            Frail as the fluttering foam,
      In countless myriads rise.
            And in my city home
            I, too, who heard
            Their reedy word,
Awoke, and, with my soul, went forth to roam.
~Madison J. Cawein (1865–1914)

This is a tale of the Wanderlust, that restless longing that is like a physical pain, the longing understood only by those who feel it... It is a sudden disease that attacks one, this wish just to move on, to go, no matter where if we be but going, the sort of feeling that makes it a positive danger to watch a moving railroad train or to see a ship leave her dock. ~Grace Isabel Colbron, book review of The Trail of the Hawk by Sinclair Lewis, 1915

Beyond the Arctic outposts I will venture all alone;
Some Never-never Land will be my goal...
For the Wanderlust has ruled me,
And the Wanderlust has schooled me...
~Robert W. Service, "The Wanderlust," Rhymes of a Rolling Stone, 1912

That's the life for me!
Wandering with the wandering wind,
Vagabond and unconfined!
Roving with the roving rain
Its unboundaried domain!
~Richard Hovey, "The Wander-Lovers," Songs from Vagabondia, 1894

The Wanderlust has taught me… it has whispered to my heart
Things all you stay-at-homes will never know...
~Robert W. Service, "The Wanderlust," Rhymes of a Rolling Stone, 1912

A rolling stone gathers no moss. ~Publilius Syrus, 1st century BCE, from the Latin by D. Lyman, 1856

For it is not only true that a rolling stone gathers no moss, but wishes to gather none; as time goes on, even grows to fear moss, or anything else that mars the hard smoothness which enables it to keep on rolling. His first assignment to foreign work had enabled him to cast loose his anchors, and he had never been seriously tempted to pick them up again. He had come to love rolling for its own sake. The thought of being chained to a desk — of being chained even to a house — revolted him. He wanted always to be able to throw his things into a bag and take the road at a moment's notice. ~Burton E. Stevenson, The Kingmakers, "Chapter XIX: Selden Takes an Inventory," 1922  [a little altered –tg]

I am no longer bonded to a locality, the habitat of a confine.
I free myself into world spaces.
Vastness is in my adventure.
I am a world-person, a sky-plainsman, a maker of spirit trails.
~Muriel Strode (1875–1964), "Songs of Life-Freedom: II," A Soul's Faring, 1921

...crossing and recrossing the country every year, south in the winter and north in the summer and only because he has no place he can stay in without getting tired of it and because there's nowhere to go but everywhere, and keep rolling under the stars... ~Jack Kerouac (1922–1969)

Beyond the East the sunrise, beyond the West the sea,
And East and West the wanderlust that will not let me be;
It works in me like madness, dear, to bid me say, good‑bye!
For the seas call and the stars call, and oh, the call of the sky.
~Gerald Gould, "Wanderlust," c. 1905

The call of spring seems to be louder, sweeter, more siren-like, than ever before. The longing to get closer to nature, fills the heart. O mächtig ist der Griff der Wanderlust! ~M.F. Canfield, "Die Wanderlust," To‑Morrow, June 1905

I am wed, but not to flesh,—
      Mountains call; the blood in me
      Leaps like fire-tossed, wind-blown spray
      Whipped and lashed by homing sea.
I am bound, but not as men
      Would know, or care who understood;
      I am held by lofty hills,
      My heart bleeds out dreams in a wood.
I am wed, to peaks and heights.
      I would sing where sun laughs last.
      Naught is mine, yet I hold all,
      Future, present, grinning past.
~George Elliston, "Fulfilled," 1929 edition

A man grows sick of the walls of brick, and the city's endless roar, when old winter goes, with its frosts and snows, and the springtime's at the door. His soul rebels at the city's smells, and he says to himself, says he, "There are banks of thyme with a scent sublime, and the woodland's calling me!" His soul revolts at the jars and jolts that the urban dweller knows, at his sordid task, when he longs to bask in the glen where the cowslip grows; and he says, "Gee whiz! I am tired of biz, and sick of the sights I see, of the stress and strain for a tawdry gain, when the woodland's calling me!" In all human lives, when the spring arrives, there riseth the wanderlust; and a fellow's dreams are of woods and streams, and the long road white with dust. And he heaves a sob as he views his job, from which he won't dare to flee; and he says, "By Hoyle! It is hard to toil, when the woodland's calling me!" ~Walt Mason (1862–1939), "Spring Thoughts"

Then every star shall sing to me
Its song of liberty;
And every morn shall bring to me
Its mandate to be free.
In every throbbing vein of me
I'll feel the vast Earth-call;
O body, heart and brain of me
Praise Him who made it all!
~Robert W. Service (1874–1958), "A Rolling Stone," 1912

Don't you know you've got a chance of seeing the world? You're one of the lucky people that can have a touch of the wanderlust without being made useless by it. You may wander in thought as well as on freight-trains, and discover something of the world. Mostly, young Americans get tied up to something before they see what a big world there is to hike in. Son, son, for God's sake, live in life. ~Sinclair Lewis, The Trail of the Hawk: A Comedy of the Seriousness of Life, 1915  [a little altered –tg]

I am odorous of the pine forest,
The scent of pine-cones is in my hair.
I smell of wild mint, and the tamarack swamps.
The juice of alder-berries is on my lips, and the brown stain of hazel on my fingers.
I am flecked with the dust of moth-wings, and powdered with the pollen from the hearts of calla-lilies.
I am wind-tawned and sun-browned.
Wearing the marks of the open.
I reek of freedom.
~Muriel Strode (1875–1964), "At the Roots of Grasses: XVIII," At the Roots of Grasses, 1923

Olive:  I've never had the mad freedom of choosing between a tour of the Irish bogs and an educational pilgrimage to the shrines of celebrated brewers. But I've wanted— One doesn't merely go without having an objective, or an excuse for going.
Carl:  I do.  ~Sinclair Lewis, The Trail of the Hawk: A Comedy of the Seriousness of Life, 1915  [a little altered –tg]

The wanderlust rages like a fever within him. ~Raymond H. Huse, "Growing Pains," The Soul of a Child, 1914

There's a tarry smell, a wanderlust smell, and whenever the wind is blowing
The perfume of the open sea comes pungent on the air...
~Edmund Leamy, "A Song of Streets," in America: A Catholic Review of the Week, 1921

He was being inwardly eaten by the Wanderlust. ~George Ade, "The Dream That Came Out with Much to Boot," 1913

Highway, by-way, many a mile I've done;
Rare way, fair way, many a height I've won;
But I'm pulling my freight in the morning, boys,
And it's over the hills or bust;
For there's never a cure
When you list to the lure
      Of the Wan‑der‑lust.
~Robert W. Service, "The Wanderlust," Rhymes of a Rolling Stone, 1912

It's the prayer of the wandering, storm-tossed soul...
When we go home again!
~Esther M. Clark Hill, "Home," in Kansas City Star, 1920

I couldn't sew on a day like this. There's something in the air that gets into my blood and makes a sort of glory in my soul. My finger would twitch and I'd sew a crooked seam. So it's ho for the park and the pines. ~L. M. Montgomery, Anne of the Island, 1915

The Wanderlust has lured me to the seven lonely seas...
The Wanderlust has haled me from the morris chairs of ease,
Has hurled me to the ends of all the earth...
yet the longing grows and grows...
there's no rest or peace for me, imperious it drums,
The Wanderlust, and I must follow it.
~Robert W. Service, "The Wanderlust," Rhymes of a Rolling Stone, 1912

Carefree to be, as a bird that sings;
To go my own sweet way;
To reck not at all what may befall,
But to live and to love each day.
~Robert W. Service (1874–1958), "A Rolling Stone," 1912

We might call it fall fever, but we don't, perhaps because it is restlessness rather than lassitude. It is more like wanderlust, though the wanderer merely wants to go, to see new places, and the urgency now is to see old, familiar places again. Autumn burnishes the memories as well as the hills. ~Hal Borland, "The Summons," October 1967

For Woodland Trail and Mountain Height
Let Feet and Heart and Pack be light.
~Arthur Guiterman, "Of Packs and Burdens," A Poet's Proverbs, 1924

Hawk Ericson, an average young American with a soil-nourished ancestry, was the divinely restless seeker of the romance that must — or we die! — lie beyond the hills... ~Sinclair Lewis, The Trail of the Hawk: A Comedy of the Seriousness of Life, 1915  [a little altered –tg]

To pitch my tent with no prosy plan,
To range and to change at will;
To mock at the mastership of man,
To seek Adventure's thrill.
~Robert W. Service (1874–1958), "A Rolling Stone," 1912

Says I, “Then let’s be on the float; you certainly have got my goat;
You make me hungry in my throat for seeing things that’s new.
Out ere somewhere we’ll ride the range a-looking for the new and strange;
My feet are tired and need a change. Come on! It’s up to you!”
~Henry Herbert Knibbs (1874–1945), "Out There Somewhere"

I am fevered with the sunset...
For the wander-thirst is on me...
I must forth again to-morrow!
With the sunset I must be
Hull down on the trail of rapture
In the wonder of the Sea.
~Richard Hovey, "The Sea Gypsy," More Songs from Vagabondia, 1896

Wanderlust.  They want to get out into the world, and at stated periods the desire is so strong and the road so handy that they simply cannot resist the temptation to explore it. ~Josiah Flynt, "The Children of the Road," in The Atlantic Monthly, 1896

There's a race of men that don't fit in,
A race that can't stay still;
So they break the hearts of kith and kin,
And they roam the world at will.
They range the field and they rove the flood,
And they climb the mountain's crest;
Theirs is the curse of the gypsy blood,
And they don't know how to rest...
They're always tired of the things that are,
And they want the strange and new...
He's a rolling stone, and it's bred in the bone;
He's a man who won't fit in.
~Robert W. Service, "The Men That Don't Fit In," c. 1907

I am coming the upward route, the hill road. I am leaning hard on my staff, my mountain boots are torn — but I am coming, I am on the far, high ledge.
I am coming with a spray of kinnikinnic in my mountain coat, and the autumn colors in my mountain soul.
~Muriel Strode (1875–1964), "At the Roots of Grasses: V," At the Roots of Grasses, 1923

Lea awoke early the next morning, with the sensation of something new and pleasant in the background of her thoughts. She had turned over a nice, clean page in a new chapter of her life with nothing written on it. Oh! the glorious possibilities! Only one word was to be written across it: Happiness! but she did not know the language in which that word was spelled. The clean white pages lay before her like a shining, unexplored land. A great impatient joy, a Sehnsucht, like the Wanderlust that seizes the Germans in the spring of the year, flooded her young soul. The lines of a fairy tale that her mother used to tell her rose up before her; like flower-garlanded children holding hands they danced through her memory in pretty foolishness: "Once upon a time there was a little girl. And one day she went out into the world to seek her fortune..." ~Anita Vivanti Chartres (1866–1942), The Hunt for Happiness, 1896  [a little altered –tg]

There's sunshine in the heart of me,
My blood sings in the breeze;
The mountains are a part of me,
I'm fellow to the trees.
My golden youth I'm squandering,
Sun-libertine am I;
A-wandering, a-wandering,
Until the day I die.
~Robert W. Service (1874–1958), "A Rolling Stone," 1912

For far over all that folks hold worth,
There lives and there leaps in me
A love of the lowly things of earth,
And a passion to be free.
~Robert W. Service (1874–1958), "A Rolling Stone," 1912

I was meant to hike for the hiking's sake... We'd go and go. No limit… And we wouldn't just go places, either; we'd be different things. We'd be Connecticut farmers one year, and run a mine in Mexico the next, and loaf in Paris the next, if we had the money. ~Sinclair Lewis, The Trail of the Hawk: A Comedy of the Seriousness of Life, 1915

That's the Marna of my soul,
Wander-bride of mine!
~Richard Hovey, "The Wander-Lovers," Songs from Vagabondia, 1894

[T]he wanderlust can eat the heart out of love itself if love is fed only on the everyday joys and sorrows. ~Grace Isabel Colbron, book review of The Trail of the Hawk by Sinclair Lewis, 1915

For the wanderlust-bitten soul is the soul which cannot face issues except for a moment of exaltation. Unconsciously it seeks the "runaway" policy and finds in change and new excitement the strength that other natures find in a dogged endurance of whatever comes. ~Grace Isabel Colbron, book review of The Trail of the Hawk by Sinclair Lewis, 1915

And then that slim, poetic guy, turned and looked me in the eye:
"…It's overland and overland and overseas to — where?"
"Most anywhere that isn't here," I says. His face went kind of queer:
The place we're in is always here. The other place is there."
~Henry Herbert Knibbs (1874–1945), "Out There Somewhere"

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published 2016 Jan 2
revised 2016 Apr 18
last saved 2024 May 12