Maps by Holly Ordway


Antique maps, with curlicues of ink
As borders, framing what we know, like pages
From a book of travelers’ tales: look,
Here in the margin, tiny ships at sail.
No-nonsense maps from family trips: each state
Traced out in color-coded numbered highways,
A web of roads with labeled city-dots
Punctuating the route and its slow stories.
Now GPS puts me right at the centre,
A Ptolemaic shift in my perspective.
Pinned where I am, right now, somewhere, I turn
And turn to orient myself. I have
Directions calculated, maps at hand:
Hopelessly lost till I look up at last.

Hear Malcolm Guite read today’s poem

In many ways, our digital world has robbed us of context. A glace at an analog timepiece yields more than the time of day.  The minute and hour hands remind you that you have 20 minutes until your noon appointment, and twice that time as passed since you began your journey at 11:00.  The digital clock simply says 11:40.

In today’s poem, Holly Ordway likens our dependence on GPS devices to a worldview which fixed man as the center of the universe.  Along with our attention span, our perspective has become short and tactical.

In his book The Word in the Wilderness, Malcom Guite says this:

We are accustomed to the sight of people whose eyes are fixed and pinned down on their smartphones as they walk, bumping into others and missing both the beauty and the clear landmarks of the world around them, and this is where the final ‘turn’ or ‘volta’ of the poem comes:

I have
Directions calculated, maps at hand:
Hopelessly lost till I look up at last.

In what way does your life need reorientation?

John 14:6

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.

Dig Deeper: Literature & Liturgy

Holly Ordway

Holly Ordway

Holly Ordway is Professor of English and faculty in the M.A. in Apologetics at Houston Baptist University.  She teachs in the Online MAA program and specialize in cultural and imaginative literary apologetics.

Her forthcoming new book is Imaginative Apologetics, due out in Spring 2017 from Emmaus Road Publishing.

Holly’s academic work focuses on J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, and Charles Williams; she is the Charles Williams Subject Editor for the Journal of Inklings Studies. More details on her academic writings can be found on her “Writing” page.

Holly’s current project is a literary-critical study, Tolkien’s Modern Sources: Middle-earth Beyond the Middle Ages, to be published by Kent State University Press. You can get a glimpse of some of her findings (an intriguing connection between Tolkien and William Morris) here.

She is also the author of a memoir,  Not God’s Type: An Atheist Academic Lays Down Her Arms.

If you’re interested in having Holly give a talk to your organization, take a look at her speaking schedule and she will be in touch!

Malcolm Guite

Malcolm Guite
Malcolm Guite

Malcolm Guite is poet-priest and Chaplain of Girton College Cambridge, but he often travels round Great Britain, and to North America, to give lectures, concerts and poetry readings.  For more details of these and other engagements go to his Events Page

Photo courtesy Lancia E. Smith


51vg-xoskvl-_sy346_For every day from Shrove Tuesday to Easter Day, the bestselling poet Malcolm Guite chooses a favourite poem from across the Christian spiritual and English literary traditions and offers incisive seasonal reflections on it.

Lent is a time to reorient ourselves, clarify our minds, slow down, recover from distraction and focus on the values of God’s kingdom. Poetry, with its power to awaken the mind, is an ideal companion for such a time. This collection enables us to turn aside from everyday routine and experience moments of transfigured vision as we journey through the desert landscape of Lent and find refreshment along the way.
Following each poem with a helpful prose reflection, Malcolm Guite has selected from classical and contemporary poets, from Dante, John Donne and George Herbert to Seamus Heaney, Rowan Williams and Gillian Clarke, and his own acclaimed poetry.
ART:Map of the Southern Sky, with representations of constellations, decorated with the crest of Cardinal Lang von Wellenburg, and a dedication to him with his coats of arms and the Imperial copyright
Albrecht Durer
Date: 1515 

Published by

Rick Wilcox

Editor in Chief | Literary Life