Travel has always had the power to stir the soul and inspire works of great artistry. The feeling of freedom exploring offers us has inspired humans to create moving artworks, from paintings and songs to epic poems.

Great poets like Whitman and Tennyson have penned profound poems about adventure that have stood the test of time.

We’ve gathered this list of some of the best-known adventure poems, and some lesser-known but no less impactful poems to ignite your wanderlust. They capture the feeling of being out in the world immersing in new places.

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    1. The Road Not Taken – Robert Frost

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    “I shall be telling this with a sigh
    Somewhere ages and ages hence:
    Two roads diverged in a wood, and I-
    I took the one less traveled by,
    And that has made all the difference.”

    Robert Frost, regarded by many as one of America’s greatest poets, wrote this adventure poem which has no doubt inspired more travels than we could ever know. It’s a call to courage, to face the unknown, and to break from the crowd and follow your own path wherever it may lead. 

    2. Song of the Open Road – Walt Whitman

    “Afoot and light-hearted I take to the open road, 
    Healthy, free, the world before me, 
    The long brown path before me leading wherever I choose. 
    Henceforth I ask not good-fortune, I myself am good-fortune, 
    Henceforth I whimper no more, postpone no more, need nothing, 
    Done with indoor complaints, libraries, querulous criticisms, 
    Strong and content I travel the open road.”

    Song of the Open Road – Walt Whitman

    3. Freedom – Olive Runner

    “Give me the long, straight road before me,
    A clear, cold day with a nipping air,
    Tall, bare trees to run on beside me,
    A heart that is light and free from care.
    Then let me go!-I care not whither
    My feet may lead, for my spirit shall be
    Free as the brook that flows to the river,
    Free as the river that flows to the sea.”

    Oliver Runner’s poem about adventure captures so much of what drives every traveler. The sense of untethered wandering, free to go where the road may lead. As long as we’re treading new ground and experiencing new places, we’re at our happiest. 

    4. For the Traveller – John O’Donohue

    “When you travel, you find yourself
    Alone in a different way,
    More attentive now
    To the self you bring along,
    Your more subtle eye watching
    You abroad; and how what meets you
    Touches that part of the heart
    That lies low at home: 

    How you unexpectedly attune
    To the timbre in some voice,
    Opening in conversation
    You want to take in
    To where your longing
    Has pressed hard enough
    Inward, on some unsaid dark,
    To create a crystal of insight
    You could not have known.”

    When it comes to poems about adventure, this one by John O’Donohue does well to explain the changes that occur within us when we travel. We may see new horizons every day, and we may meet new people around each corner, but the thing that changes the most is the heart and mind of the traveler. 

    5. If Once You’ve Slept on an Island – Rachel Field

    “If once you have slept on an island 
    You’ll never be quite the same; 
    You may look as you looked the day before 
    And go by the same old name, 
    You may bustle about in street and shop 
    You may sit at home and sew, 
    But you’ll see blue water and wheeling gulls 
    Wherever your feet may go. 
    You may chat with the neighbors of this and that 
    And close to your fire keep, 
    But you’ll hear ship whistle and lighthouse bell 
    And tides beat through your sleep. 
    Oh! you won’t know why and you can’t say how 
    Such a change upon you came, 
    But once you have slept on an island, 
    You’ll never be quite the same.”

    If Once You’ve Slept on an Island – Rachel Field

    6. Travel – Robert Louis Stevenson

    “I should like to rise and go
    Where the golden apples grow;—
    Where below another sky
    Parrot islands anchored lie,
    And, watched by cockatoos and goats,
    Lonely Crusoes building boats;—
    Where in sunshine reaching out
    Eastern cities, miles about,
    Are with mosque and minaret
    Among sandy gardens set,
    And the rich goods from near and far
    Hang for sale in the bazaar,—
    Where the Great Wall round China goes,
    And on one side the desert blows,
    And with bell and voice and drum
    Cities on the other hum;—”

    7. Die Slowly – Martha Medeiros

    “He who does not travel, who does not read,
    who can not hear music,
    who does not find grace in himself,
    she who does not find grace in herself,
    dies slowly.

    He who slowly destroys his own self-esteem,
    who does not allow himself to be helped,
    who spends days on end complaining about his own bad luck, about the rain that never stops,
    dies slowly.”

    Die Slowly – Martha Mederios

    The title of this adventure poem may seem dark, and not much about adventure at all, but it’s really about living. Living so fully and so well that death seems to take its time arriving. We know that we all die one day, but we can make so much of our time, that once is enough. 

    Reducing our days on earth into an endless stream of items on a to-do list, fulfilling responsibilities, and going through the motions is not a way to get the most out of it. 

    8. Oh the Places You’ll Go – Dr. Seuss

    “You’re off to Great Places!
    Today is your day!
    Your mountain is waiting,
    So… get on your way!” 

    Oh the Places You’ll Go – Dr. Suess

    This is the greatest poem about adventure that inspires both adults and children. At its heart, this poem is a call to adventure, encouraging readers to head off into the world with bravery, courage, and curiosity for the things that await to be seen and discovered. 

    9. Questions of Travel – Elizabeth Bishop

    “Think of the long trip home.
    Should we have stayed at home and thought of here?
    Where should we be today?”

    “But surely it would have been a pity
    not to have seen the trees along this road,
    really exaggerated in their beauty,
    not to have seen them gesturing
    like noble pantomimists, robed in pink.”

    10. Over the Hills and Far Away – William Ernest Henley

    “Where forlorn sunsets flare and fade 
    On desolate sea and lonely sand, 
    Out of the silence and the shade 
    What is the voice of strange command 
    Calling you still, as friend calls friend 
    With love that cannot brook delay, 
    To rise and follow the ways that wend 
    Over the hills and far away? “

    Over the Hills and Far Away – William Ernest Henley

    11. O to Sail – Walt Whitman

    “O to sail in a ship, 
    To leave this steady unendurable land, 
    To leave this tiresome sameness of streets, 
    the sidewalks and the houses, 
    To leave you, O you solid motionless land, and entering the ship, 
    To sail and sail and sail!”

    12. Travel – Edna St Vincent Millay

    “The railroad track is miles away,
    And the day is loud with voices speaking,
    Yet there isn’t a train goes by all day
    But I hear its whistle shrieking.

    All night there isn’t a train goes by,
    Though the night is still for sleep and dreaming,
    But I see its cinders red on the sky,
    And hear its engine steaming.

    My heart is warm with the friends I make,
    And better friends I’ll not be knowing;
    Yet there isn’t a train I wouldn’t take,
    No matter where it’s going.”

    To the person with an adventurous heart, travel will call in many ways. The restlessness may wax and wane but it never leaves us entirely. The deep desire to explore will always be back to call us, to motion us onwards on our next journey. We can try to distract ourselves and live on regardless but the call will come again. It always does. 

    13. The Land of Beyond – Robert W Service

    “Have ever you heard of the Land of Beyond, 
    That dreams at the gates of the day? 
    Alluring it lies at the skirts of the skies, 
    And ever so far away; 
    Alluring it calls: O ye the yoke galls, 
    And ye of the trails overfond, 
    With saddle and pack, by paddle and track, 
    Let’s go to the Land of Beyond!” 

    The Land of Beyond – Robert W Service

    14. Prayer for Travellers – Anon

    “May the road rise up to meet you. 
    May the wind be always at your back.
    May the sun shine warm upon your face;
    The rains fall soft upon your fields. 
    And until we meet again, 
    May God hold you in the palm of His hand.”  

    15. Ulysses – Alfred Tennyson

    “For always roaming with a hungry heart 
    Much have I seen and known; cities of men 
    And manners, climates, councils, governments, 
    Myself not least, but honour’d of them all; 
    And drunk delight of battle with my peers, 
    Far on the ringing plains of windy Troy. 
    I am a part of all that I have met; 
    Yet all experience is an arch wherethro’ 
    Gleams that untravell’d world whose margin fades 
    For ever and forever when I move.”

    This epic adventure poem written by Tennyson tells of a life lived in pursuit of adventure. It’s told from the point of view of Ulysses, who is now old and unfulfilled by a sedentary life. Though his body has aged he still longs for adventure. The main theme is that as long as there are horizons to chase and strength in our bodies, we can always choose to set out and explore. We should use every day we’re given to its fullest, taking every morsel of adventure we can. 

    16. I Want a Life Measured – Tyler Knott Gregson

    “I want a life measured
    in first steps on foreign soils
    and deep breaths
    in brand new seas
    I want a life measured
    in Welcome Signs,
    each stamped
    with a different name,
    borders marked with metal and paint.
    Show me the streets
    that don’t know the music
    of my meandering feet,
    and I will play their song
    upon them.
    Perfume me please
    in the smells of far away,
    I will never wash my hair
    if it promises to stay.
    I want a life measured
    in the places I haven’t gone,
    short sleeps on long flights,
    strange voices teaching me
    new words to
    describe the dawn.”

    Tyler Knott Gregson’s poem enlists all the senses in describing the gifts that travel brings. We should measure our lives by the places we’ve been, and the experiences we’ve had in faraway places. The wanderer in us all can relate to this feeling of needing to fill our days with newness and unexplored places. 

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      17. Why Do I Travel – Unknown

      “It is on the road that my inner voice speaks the loudest and my heart beats the strongest.
      It is on the road that I take extra pride in my wooly hair, full features and lineage.
      It is on the road that I develop extra senses and the hairs on my arms stand up and say “Sana, don’t go there”, and I listen.
      It’s when I safety pin my money to my underclothes and count it a million times before I go to sleep,
      It is on the road that I am a poet, an ambassador, a dancer, medicine woman, an angel and even a genius.
      It’s on the road that I am fearless and unstoppable and if necessary ball up my fist and fight back.
      It is on the road that I talk to my deceased parents and they speak back.
      It’s on the road that I reprimand myself, and set new goals, refuel, stop and begin again.
      It is on the road that I experience what freedom truly is.
      It is my travel that has transformed me making me a citizen of the world. When my humanness, compassion and affection are raised to a new level and I share unconditionally.”

      While the author of this piece is unknown, it’s clear that this poem about adventure comes from the heart of an explorer. When we travel we change in ways we could never anticipate. We grow and we learn and we change, and we’re never the same again. With each adventure we take, we gain something and are forever transformed. 

      18. A Call to Adventure – John Mark Green

      “Set fire to all your maps, 
      Forget how it’s always been. 
      We’re explorers of the heart, 
      Learning to dream again. 
      The adventure of a lifetime, 
      With love along as our guide. 
      Exotic places beyond imagination – 
      Ones we’ve longed for deep inside.” 

      A Call to Adventure – John Mark Green

      19. Returning – Erin Hanson

      “Perhaps we only leave
      So we can once again arrive,
      To get a bird’s eye view
      Of what it means to be alive.
      For there is beauty in returning,
      Oh how wonderful, how strange,
      To see that everything’s different
      But know it is only you who changed.”

      By leaving, we gain a new perspective on the world. This change within us makes it impossible to go back to who we were before we left, and when we return we can’t see things the same way anymore. Coming back is not the same as having never left. 

      20. Wanderlust – Richard Avedon

      “You must not think because my glance is quick
      To shift from this to that, from here to there,
      Because I am most usually where
      The way is strangest and the wonders thick,
      Because when wind is wildest and the bay
      Swoops madly upward and the gulls are few
      And I am doing as I want to do,
      Leaving the town to go my aimless way;
      You must not think because I am the kind
      Who always shunned security and such
      As bother the responsible of mind
      That I shall never total up to much;
      I know my drifting will not prove a loss,
      For mine is a rolling stone that has gathered moss.”

      21. The Enchanted Traveler – Bliss Carmen

      “We travelled empty-handed
      With hearts all fear above,
      For we ate the bread of friendship,
      We drank the wine of love.
      Through many a wondrous autumn,
      Through many a magic spring,
      We hailed the scarlet banners,
      We heard the blue-bird sing.
      We looked on life and nature
      With the eager eyes of youth,
      And all we asked or cared for
      Was beauty, joy, and truth.
      We found no other wisdom,
      We learned no other way,
      Than the gladness of the morning,
      The glory of the day.
      So all our earthly treasure
      Shall go with us, my dears,
      Aboard the Shadow Liner,
      Across the sea of years.”

      This is a simple and beautiful adventure poem about the joys of being free to wander. Our lives should be a series of adventures, through the seasons of our lives, and our treasure is the places we’ve been to and the people we’ve shared the journey with. 

      22. The Farewell – Khalil Gibran

      “We wanderers, ever seeking the lonelier way, begin no day where we have ended another day; and no sunrise finds us where sunset left us. 
      Even while the earth sleeps we travel. 
      We are the seeds of the tenacious plant, and it is in our ripeness and our fullness of heart that we are given to the wind and are scattered.” 

      The Farewell – Khalil Gibran

      23. What if this Road – Sheenagh Pugh

      “What if this road, that has held no surprises
      these many years, decided not to go
      home after all; what if it could turn
      left or right with no more ado
      than a kite-tail? What if its tarry skin
      were like a long, supple bolt of cloth,
      that is shaken and rolled out, and takes
      a new shape from the contours beneath?
      And if it chose to lay itself down
      in a new way, around a blind corner,
      across hills you must climb without knowing
      what’s on the other side, who would not hanker
      to be going, at all risks? Who wants to know
      a story’s end, or where a road will go?”

      24. The Return – Geneen Marie Haugen

      “Some day, if you are lucky,
      you’ll return from a thunderous journey
      trailing snake scales, wing fragments
      and the musk of Earth and moon.

      Eyes will examine you for signs
      of damage, or change
      and you, too, will wonder
      if your skin shows traces

      of fur, or leaves,
      if thrushes have built a nest
      of your hair, if Andromeda
      burns from your eyes.”

      Geneen Marie Haugen talks about the lasting effect that travel has on us. When we return home to those who never left, we seem worlds apart. Do they envy us? Do they fear us for what we may know that they do not? We return changed and we can only hope that change inspires others to chase their adventures too.

      25. On the World – Francis Quarles

      “The world’s an Inn; and I her guest. 
      I eat; I drink; I take my rest. 
      My hostess, nature, does deny me 
      Nothing, wherewith she can supply me; 
      Where, having stayed a while, I pay 
      Her lavish bills, and go my way. “

      On the World

      Final thoughts

      There are so many more excellent poems about adventure out there to get your wanderlust juices flowing. These are just the tip of the iceberg for incredible adventure inspiration.

      We hope these verses have ignited, or at least fanned the flames of exploration within you. Who knows, you might set off on an epic journey and be inspired to create your very own poem.