Home Thoughts From Abroad by Robert Browning

With this poem, Home Thoughts From Abroad, Robert Browning puts himself in the position of one who has been away from home and is missing it dearly. The speaker, thus, is a traveller. The author can relate to his speaker in this. Robert Browning, having spent considerable time in Italy, knew the feeling of missing home. He presents that feeling here. While the poem reflects the author himself, it also reflects the time period in which the poem was written. Browning was one of the poets of the Romantic era, and thus his poetry reflects the sentimental ideas that characterise many of the poems of Romanticism (A Brief Guide to Romantics).

 

Home Thoughts From Abroad Analysis

Stanza 1

Oh, to be in England
Now that April’s there,
And whoever wakes in England
Sees, some morning, unaware,
That the lowest boughs and the brushwood sheaf
Round the elm-tree bole are in tiny leaf,
While the chaffinch sings on the orchard bough
In England—now!

The first stanza introduces a speaker who longs for home. Many readers may be able to relate with the speaker, and that gives the poem an intensified meaning for some readers. The speaker clearly loves his home country. He is emotional in his opening of the poem, using the word “oh” to reflect his deep longing to be home. The author’s use of the description of nature is typical of a poem written during the Romantic Era. He describes his home country in April, and is clearly envious of “whoever wakes in England” during the spring. He describes “the lowest boughs and the brushwood sheaf”. He seems to connect with nature in that he misses it when he thinks of his home country.

It is interesting that when he expresses his desire to be in England, he does not mention any particular people or person, but refers to nature. Again, it is reflective of Romantic poetry for the author to reveal a connection with and love for nature. The speaker continues to describe the “elm-tree bole” and its tiny leaves. He describes the “chaffinch” ( a type of finch) as it “sings on the orchard bow”. This is the way he left England, and this is the England he longs to return. Wherever the speaker is, it is clear that the coming of spring has brought these feelings of longing for his home country. This is an interaction between the speaker and nature. The coming of spring has affected the speaker in causing him to long for England. This description of interaction of a person and nature is also characteristic of poetry from the Romantic Era.

 

Stanza 2

And after April, when May follows,
And the whitethroat builds, and all the swallows!
Hark, where my blossomed pear-tree in the hedge
Leans to the field and scatters on the clover
Blossoms and dewdrops—at the bent spray’s edge—
That’s the wise thrush; he sings each song twice over,
Lest you should think he never could recapture
The first fine careless rapture!
And though the fields look rough with hoary dew,
All will be gay when noontide wakes anew
The buttercups, the little children’s dower
—Far brighter than this gaudy melon-flower!

The opening lines of the second stanza reveal that the speaker believes he will be away from England for quite some time. He dreams of the change from April to May that will take place in England while he is away. He longs to see “the whitethroat builds and all the swallows!”. It is clear that birds are significant to the speaker, and for some reason, the birds in England are more significant to him than the birds in his current place of residence. The use of the word “Hark” at the beginning of the third line reveals that the speaker feels that what he has to say next is very important. Thus, he calls attention to himself by asking his readers to “hark” or “listen” intently to him. He then continues to describe the spring in England as he describes the “blossomed pear- tree in the hedge” and the way it “leans to the field and scatters on the clover”. It is clear that all of these signs of spring in England are a part of the speaker’s memories, and seeing them makes him feel at home. He goes on to describe the “blossoms and dewdrops” as well as “the wise thrush” (a songbird) as he sang “each song twice over”. The continuous use of describing nature reveals the impact nature has had on the speaker. He remembers every detail of spring in England. Wherever he spent a lot of his time in England, he was able to experience a variety of birds and plants and blossomed trees. These parts of nature come to mind when he realizes that it is spring. In his current residence, spring time does not bring the same interactions with nature as it did when he lived in England. Thus, he longs for England and describes each piece of nature that he desperately misses. The speaker continues to describe the songbird, revealing his connection with this little bird. He says that the bird sings each song twice, just in case the listener may think that the bird could not “recapture the first fine careless rapture.” The speaker continues to describe his longing for his hometown by explaining that even the parts of England that may look ugly, or “rough with hoary dew,” are still beautiful when the noontime comes around and the little buttercups become visible. Throughout this poem, it is clear the speaker misses his hometown and connects with nature on a deep level.

Read more:   Porphyria's Lover by Robert Browning

With the last line, the speaker explains that the place he is in now, is nothing compared to what he experiences when he sees the springtime in England. He says, “far brighter than this gaudy melon-flower”. It is clear now that the speaker has been looking at a flower which has bloomed in the springtime. It would seem, however, that to him, the little flower pales in comparison to the blossoms he has seen in England during the spring. Perhaps springtime in England was actually more beautiful than the springtime in the country in which the speaker was residing. However, it is also possible that the spring in England held a special kind of beauty to the speaker because it was connected with his childhood and all that he knew before leaving his home country. In either case, it is clear that the speaker loves his home country, longs for it, and feels a deep connection with the nature he has experienced in his home country of England.

Works Cited:

  • “A Brief Guide to Romantics.” Poets.org. Academy of American Poets, 27 May 2004. Web. 29 Sept. 2016.
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2 Comments

  1. Tim Foley April 2, 2018
    • mm Lee-James Bovey April 2, 2018

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