Wednesday, August 24, 2011

The Grand Tour

The Grand Tour

Go then,
See in your heart
A glimpse of ages past
            and glories lost.
This inner territory is worth
            the price of ticket:
A slow steamer and then
            weeks on horseback.
Visit the ruins—send back postcards.
Marvel at the beauty and
the romance and
the graveyards and
the detritus of life.

See where Cain first saw Abel and counted
his ten perfect toes.
Touch the high water mark from the Flood.
It’s all there in many languages,
            and while you may no longer speak them all,
they are all yours.



The Grand Tour was the traditional trip of Europe undertaken by mainly upper-class European young men of means. The custom flourished from about 1660 until the advent of large-scale rail transit in the 1840s, and was associated with a standard itinerary. It served as an educational rite of passage. Though primarily associated with the British nobility and wealthy landed gentry, similar trips were made by wealthy young men of Protestant Northern European nations on the Continent, and from the second half of the 18th century some American and other overseas youth joined in. The tradition was extended to include more of the middle class after rail and steamship travel made the journey less of a burden, and Thomas Cook made the "Cook's Tour" a byword.

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