My Pilgrimage To Hurst - Poetry Criticism by Robin Upton        2004-06-20

Like many of the poems I wrote during this time, My Pilgrimage To Hurst tackles themes of drug use and lost innocence. It shows from the inside how happy memories can be a trap that stops us moving on if they keep us looking backwards. I wrote it on the same night as Yearend in June having gone to the annual end of university party. I try to capture the mood of being drawn there by my hedonistic past, but of realizing with disappointment that my life has moved on.

The poem describes my empty feelings of missing something but being unable to say what, because logic doesn't tell me. Will O'The Wisp means 'dangerous illusion' and also the light from people smoking in the dark, as well as being an oblique childhood reference. Lines 7 & 8 touch on this self-delusion Ė once dawn breaks, I can see the nightís activities more clearly. I sense that better light will stop me looking, as it becomes harder to lie to myself that I'll ever find what Iím seeking. Secretly, I always knew that I never would, but I never admitted this, because some part of me wanted to live the dream of my former way of life. I did this for many years and smoked a lot of cannabis - which did not help me find it, only kept me looking.

Although the tone of the poem is sad, like mourning a lost love, the last two lines add a hopeful self-reflective note to it. In line 10 I answer Yes because I feel that someone asked me this question. In fact I am answering myself, recognizing my desire to hang onto illusions, and learning the affect my unfulfilled past has on me.