Gerald Gould's "BEYOND the East the Sunrise: beyond the West the Sea;" : Stating the Process of Conscious Discovery by Human Beings in the World around them

Geographic Exploration is the process of conscious discovery by human beings of the world around them. The human species is highly mobile, migrating and traveling to every corner of the globe. In this, we are not unique. What sets human beings apart from other living creatures is our ability to discover. Many other creatures share humankind’s curiosity, but we alone can communicate our discoveries. Human societies acquire a collective awareness of their known world, and the most adventurous have the urge to discover what lies beyond and to return to describe their findings.

Taking that philosophy, Gerald Gould’s ‘Wander-Thirst’, like that of Tennyson’s ‘Ulysses’ the intense longing for travel does not allow the poet to remain at home. The sun is the friend and the Pole Star is the guide of a man on his voyage. The voice referred to here is the call of every object of Nature that tempts the poet to set out for a journey. Actually the poet’s inner urge is reflected in this call.

In ‘Wander-Thirst’, Gerald Gould speaks about his love for travel in general. This is a sentiment that most of us readers can relate to. However, the world he wants to travel belongs to an earlier time than the present. It is a world of porous borders. As we know, nations with fixed boundaries only started to come up at the beginning of the 20th century. 

Hence, the world that the poet speaks of belongs to a time before the 20th century, when travelers could simply wander through territories without having to bother about passports and visas. Travel was not only simpler, but also cheaper. Most importantly, though, travel by sea was preferred over travel by land. This was of course because locomotives had not yet been invented. Perhaps the poet is harking back to the age before the Renaissance of the 16th  century, when even compasses had not been invented. That is why he says that he can use the sun and the stars as his guide. In the days of antiquity, man would look at the position of these celestial bodies in order to detect his location. Hence, traveling was also adventurous in those days. Man had not mapped out the entire world yet, and of every voyage was rife with the possibility of discovering new lands. That is why the poet says that he does not know where exactly every road leads. 

All these form the surface interpretation of the poem. However, there is a deeper layer of meaning beneath the words on the page. The poet compares human life with a journey. Towards the end of the poem, he says that one cannot ever stop traveling. In the same way, one cannot ever turn away from life. One must embrace everything that life has to offer, and live life to the fullest. Though it is not clearly mentioned, the poet seems to be saying that life is short, and we should use our limited time on earth to explore all of its beautiful landscapes.

Despite its simple rhyme scheme and diction, and its supposedly uncomplicated subject matter, the underlying message of this poem is very profound. Gerald Gould knows that life is short, and that we often take life for granted, so he tells all his readers to live every day like it is their last day on earth and that there will be no tomorrow. Gould tells them to travel and to explore, but more importantly, he tells them never to lose the spirit of wonder that makes one appreciate the sights of the earth. Gould tells them to embrace life with all their hearts, so that they never have to look back with regret on any lost opportunities.