Poem 11: Oh the places you will go!

On Wednesday, as many of you will know, I took my boyfriend to Manchester airport and waved him off to start his new job in Japan. The weeks leading up to this have been tense and nervous and full of anticipation. Such a lot of things had to happen, all rather quickly, to make sure that this trip could go ahead, and that didn't leave an awful lot of time for having big celebrations of a PhD passed or composing elaborate farewells. I expect that the most exciting adventures often start that way. It is difficult to quite figure out what it will be like to make a change so big, so wavering between quiet worrying and great excitement has been our general response. This week's poem, which I have often seen quoted but never read all the way through before, seems to say everything that might need to be said in cheering a chap on his adventures. It is a rather long poem, and in fact takes up an entire book in some editions, so I have chosen to print only excerpts here. But please find the whole story if you have chance. It is most enjoyable indeed. So, without further ado, here is this week's poem:

Oh, the Places You'll Go! [Excerpts]
Dr. Seuss

Today is your day.
You're off to Great Places!
You're off and away!

You have brains in your head.
You have feet in your shoes
You can steer yourself
Any direction you choose.
You're on your own. And you know what you know.
And YOU are the guy who'll decide where to go.

You'll look up and down streets. Look 'em over with care.
About some you will say, "I don't choose to go there."
With your head full of brains and your shoes full of feet,
You're too smart to go down any not-so-good street.

And you may not find any
You'll want to go down.
In that case, of course,
You'll head straight out of town.

It's opener there
In the wide open air.

Out there things can happen
And frequently do
To people as brainy
And footsy as you.

And when things start to happen,
Don't worry. Don't stew.
Just go right along.
You'll start happening too.


You'll be on your way up!
You'll be seeing great sights!
You'll join the high fliers
Who soar to high heights.

You won't lag behind, because you'll have the speed.
You'll pass the whole gang and you'll soon take the lead.
Wherever you fly, you'll be the best of the best.
Wherever you go, you will top all the rest.

Except when you don' t
Because, sometimes, you won't.


You'll get mixed up, of course,
As you already know.
You'll get mixed up
With many strange birds as you go.
So be sure when you step.
Step with care and great tact
And remember that Life's
A Great Balancing Act.
Just never forget to be dexterous and deft.
And never mix up your right foot with your left.

And will you succeed?
Yes! You will, indeed!
(98 and 3/4 percent guaranteed.)


Be your name Buxbaum or Bixby or Bray
Or Mordecai Ali Van Allen O'Shea,
You're off to Great Places!
Today is your day!
Your mountain is waiting.
So...get on your way!


  1. Splendid! Have read this to two small red-heads on a number of occasions!

    Hope all goes well on all fronts! And when you visit Japan, remember, we are due south (well, more or less!) S


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