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R.Browning: Home-Thoughts From Abroad

Robert Browning and his wife, Elizabeth, lived in Italy for sixteen years. When his wife died in 1861, Robert went back to his beloved England. This poem is clearly written during his Italian years by a homesick Robert Browning, longing for the beautiful springtime in England.

Home-Thoughts From Abroad

By Robert Browning

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!

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 dew-drops – 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.

A Closer Look at the Poem

  • The poem is written in the Victorian period, but it clearly carries traces of romantic poetry; can you mention some?
  • Which bird will sing "each song twice over"?
  • How many different birds and flowers are mentioned in the poem?
  • What does it mean that the buttercups are "the little children's dower"?
  • Why do you think that many poets and writers write so well and emotionally about their home country when they are abroad?

Learning content

Literary period: The Victorian Era

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