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This week's featured poem is "The Two Homes" written by Felicia Hemans.
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This week’s featured poem is “The Two Homes” written by Felicia Hemans.

The Two Homes

Oh, if the soul is indeed immortal!

Does its love also last forever?

Do you see my home? It is where those woods are swaying.
In their dark richness, to the sunny air:
Where yon blue stream, a thousand flower-banks laving,

A trail of brightness guides the way downhill – it’s right there!

Amidst these verdant havens, countless springs glisten.

Adorned with violet hues, painted by the heavens.

The place where I spent my childhood, lost in daydreams during the warm summer months.

Among the fresh foliage that trembled with sweet tunes!

in its walls.

The love within the walls of my home is alive and breathing.

With each gust of air that passes over my path,

The tendrils that wrap around the white walls

It appears as though there are gentle connections that entice the traveler to return.

sleeps

I am loved there, prayed for there, and there is where my mother sleeps.

Sitting by the fireplace with a contemplative and humble expression.

My younger sisters are waiting there to welcome their brother.

Their joyful feet will quickly move along the path!

In that place, the beautiful melodies of harmonious music intertwine.
Every household gathers at day’s end.

These are the tones that descend from one heart.

My home is filled with laughter. But where is yours, sad stranger?

“Do you ask of mine?” “It is lying in solemn peace.”

Over the deserts and past the tombs;

This is where I am also cherished, with an everlasting love.

My arrival is eagerly awaited by affectionate hearts – but I wonder, where are they?

Where the deceased find their final resting place
Request of the sky, the stars, the boundless atmosphere!

me it’s in the book

I am aware of it, but I have faith in the quiet voice that assures me it is written in the book.

My heart remains unchanged in its love, despite being alone.

What does home mean and where is it, if not with love?

You are fortunate to be able to look upon yourself in such a way.
/

I am experiencing emotions, but as I wander tiredly,

I possess those who have passed away, wherever they may be.

Return to your home, happy son and brother!

Bring joy and happiness to the household!
and watch the father

I also observe the sister, mother, and father.

I am willing to believe, but there are obstacles ahead.

This revisit to the works of Felicia Dorothea Hemans (1793-1835) focuses on a less well-known poem compared to the previous choice, Casabianca. The Two Homes, which was first published in Songs of the Affections (1830), does not immediately reveal itself as a dialogue. It seems that Hemans, in typical Romantic fashion, is speaking directly to her readers, expressing her admiration for the inseparability of home and nature. In the first verse, the descriptions of the woods “waving / in their dark richness” and the stream as “a vein of light” stand out as particularly unique. The second verse mentions multiple streams (“many a spring”), suggesting that the setting could easily be imagined as a hill in Hemans’s “adopted” north Wales.

Verse two brings a new unexpected aspect, as it discloses that the speaker is a man. The description smoothly transitions from the “boyhood’s haunt” to the actual home, with its white-washed exterior that entices the wanderer to return with its delicate tendrils. The meaning of these tendrils remains unexplained, allowing the reader’s imagination to take over. Personally, I was reminded of the vines in Keats’s poem “To Autumn”.

Verse four effectively captures the domestic setting, as expected. The following verse introduces a new perspective. The term “home-voices” (a clever term) symbolizes musical harmony (which could potentially turn into literal singing if the sisters decide to perform). Whether spoken or sung, the speaker is mesmerized by the tranquility of family unity: “There is where my home is.” However, this prompts a shift in focus. The mention of home triggers the introduction of another presence, skillfully timed in both poetic and conversational manner: “Where is your home, lonely stranger?”

Hemans eloquently introduces the second speaker. The repetition of “thine” in the phrase “Ask’st thou of mine?” creates a sense of anticipation and curiosity. The mention of “solemn peace” hints at the stranger’s family being deceased. However, the reader is left with lingering questions about the whereabouts of the stranger’s physical remains and their origin.

The distance referenced (“across the deserts and through the tombs”) not only signifies the physical separation between death and life, but also alludes to the extensive journey the stranger has endured. While the gender of the stranger is left unspecified, the poem’s realistic tone suggests a male figure, potentially a homeless former soldier or another identifiable migrant.

The remainder of the poem holds in balance the migrant’s sense that the lost loved ones are still intensely present, and that, at the same time, he’s disturbed because they cannot be located somewhere other than “the clouds, the stars, the trackless air”.

As the fourth verse of A rhymes is revisited, Hemans maintains her “plot” by reversing the order of words such as “mother” and “brother”. This emphasizes the contrast between the two experiences. The stranger bestows a kind blessing upon the person he is speaking to. He also proclaims his determination to have faith in his family’s vigilant love. However, death suddenly becomes unyielding: “but there are vast oceans separating us.”

Hemans utilizes key creative materials to construct The Two Homes. Following her family’s relocation from Liverpool to Gwrych, a town in north Wales, in 1800, she identified as being Welsh through adoption. In 1812, she wed and raised five children in Wales, and despite her eventual divorce, she chose to remain there. Upon her mother’s passing in 1827, she returned to Liverpool but ultimately spent her final years in Dublin. While her works often explore themes of female achievement, selflessness, and family life, the depiction of family in her poetry is complex and not always easily discernible.

The novel The Two Homes starts with a quote from Amelia Opie’s abolitionist poem, “Song” (“Fond dreams of love by love repaid”). However, I was unable to find the full text of “Song.” Another potential connection is proposed by Richard Rutherford Johnston in Chapter 3 of his thesis, titled Romanticism and Mortal Consciousness, in which he suggests that The Two Homes is a reaction to Wordsworth’s poem “We Are Seven.”

Source: theguardian.com