The Vacation by Wendell Berry
Like any good poem, this one by the poet, Wendell Berry, employs a concrete metaphor – a man who misses every moment of his vacation because he is too busy recording it – to examine a universal theme: how we absent ourselves from our own lives when we rush through them, disengaged, contracting them out to someone or something else. Berry uses the word, “move”, with great rhythmic and symbolic effect. We feel like we are on that speed boat with our vacationer, peering through his video lens at all the beauty which the film captures more accurately than our own minds. However, for all the movement, there is nothing really moving about the experience: the man’s camera is a pathetic emotional replacement for the man himself. Berry also repeats deceptively simple phrases like “have it”, “having it”, “be there”, “would be” and “would not be”. This turns the poem into a mournful tune about how technological devices are becoming our stand-ins for authentic living.