Ruth Padel


On Migration

Dangerous Journeys and the Living World

"Life began with migration." In a magnificent tapestry of life on the move, Ruth Padel weaves poems and prose, science and religion, wild nature and human history, to conjure a world created and sustained by migration.

"We're all from somewhere else," she begins. "Migration builds civilization but also causes displacement." From the Holy Family's Flight into Egypt, the Lost Colony on Roanoke, and the famous photograph 'Migrant Mother', Padel turns to John James Audubon's journey from Haiti and France, heirlooms carried through Ellis Island, Kennedy's "society of immigrants" and Casa del Migrante on the Mexican border.

But she reaches the human story through the millennia–old journeys of cells in our bodies, trees in the Ice Age, Monarch butterflies travelling from Alaska to Mexico. As warblers battle hurricanes over the Caribbean and wildebeest brave a river filled with the largest crocodiles in Africa, she shows that the truest purpose of migration for both humans and animals is survival.