Home is the Sailor Home from the Sea
Among my favorite poems, written by my favorite poet, A.E. Housman (1859-1936) is the following:
Home is the sailor, home from sea:
Her far-borne canvas furled
The ship pours shining on the quay
The plunder of the world.
Home is the hunter from the hill:
Fast in the boundless snare
All flesh lies taken at his will
And every fowl of air.
'Tis evening on the moorland free,
The starlit wave is still:
Home is the sailor from the sea,
The hunter from the hill.
I was reminded of Houseman’s poem today as I turned to my country “home” on Faquier, after a month long separation engendered by a two week trip to
Couples who face periodic separations, due to work, travel, or military obligations must cope with an ongoing process of adaptation and re-adaptation. Those of us who served in the navy, with extended times at sea, are particularly familiar with the challenge. The two elements of the “couple” grow apart and become independent. The ties biding them together may be as much a matter of commitment (“until death do us part” ; “so long as we both shall live”), convenience and financial need as of affection, intimacy and mutual respect. Reestablishing the bonds that once brought them together takes work, “quality time” and a commitment to give and take. But the strength and temperaments that make independent living possible, in the face of separations, make rebonding more difficult.
In my mind, Housman’s concluding verse captures a universal yearning – of sailors hunters; of all of us – for a home of peace, tranquility, intimacy and unconditional acceptance.
But note that Housman, characteristically, ends his poem on that note of yearning. He omits a concluding verse that might have described what life was like for his sailor and hunter when they actually returned home.