HOME?

What’s in a word? Maybe everything, when the word is home. Here are two definitions for you, and a question:

In Robert Frost’s Death of a Hired Man,  old Silas has returned, worn-out and  ill,  looking for work yet again at the farm of Warren and Mary.

The husband, Warren, is adamant that this time he won’t rehire Silas, and details his reasons. Mary, the wife, protests that this time Silas has come “home to die.”

“Home,” mocks Warren.

“Yes,” says Mary. “What else but home?/ Of course he’s nothing to us, any more/Than was the hound that came a stranger to us/ Out of the woods, worn out upon the trail.”

Then Warren robustly asserts:

“Home is the place where, when you have to go there, /They have to take you in.”

And Mary responds,

“I should have called it /Something you somehow haven’t to deserve.”

There’s quite a difference between these two definitions, a whole personal philosophy, maybe. I guess the question that has haunted me for years, and still does, is as simple as What is home? The question can be, as it is for Silas, a matter of life and death.  I’ve never found a satisfactory answer.

So my question is simply What is home?  I hope some of you will be willing to share your definitions and thoughts, short or long. There’s no image posted here, because without a definition of home, how do we know what it looks like? Maybe your definition would be in an image, rather than in words.

Over on A View from the Woods, I’ve posted the poet W.B. Yeats’ definition of a home at Innisfree:


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10 Responses to HOME?

  1. Claudia Shuster says:

    I don’t believe “home” is encompassed by one definition. I believe folks might define “home” (if you will, emotionally from 1-10) depending upon their experiences.

    If you have lived in a place that has brought you love, delights, peace, support during difficulty, then:
    “home” is a secure haven, the place you seek when you want to share and be comforted – be it pleasures or pain – with loved ones and/or with the natural environment.

    In contrast (at the other end of the spectrum), if your childhood/early adult home brought you extreme pain, you may indeed spend your life running from “home” and unable to create one (in the first definition) because of your painful associations.

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    • Touch2Touch says:

      Thanks for weighing in, Claudia. I wonder if you would consider “unable to create one… because of….” as a permanent condition? But I think (if I’m not mistaken) you’re giving two definitions at either end of your spectrum, a 1 and a 10, so I guess the definitions would change as one goes up or down the scale.

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  2. pauline says:

    In my singular, missing-the-home-I-grew-up-in status, I’d define home as that place where you started. It’s THE home. There may be others of course, as you grow and change and move along, but they are merely lower case homes. I’ve yet to meet anyone else who feels exactly this way but nonetheless, home to me is the place I first remember. Every board and nail still calls to me, and if there ever was a chance to go back and live there, I’d take it in a New York minute.

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    • Touch2Touch says:

      Yes, I hear you, Pauline. And recall our conversations and the tone of voice in which you spoke of the house on Silver Street: HOME. Interesting that you haven’t met anyone else who feels exactly this way. I certainly don’t — but realize I thought probably MOSt people did.

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  3. My home, my home is wherever the military orders land us. My husband has been in the US Navy for fifteen years. We have lived in thirteen houses in five different states during that time. As long as I have my children and husband with me, if we are safe and warm with a roof over our heads, I am excited to unpack and take up a temporary residence in our newest home.

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    • Touch2Touch says:

      What a beautiful response, Tara! Home is where you all are together — and of course you are instrumental in making it so. And you are excited to do so! I am filled with admiration — I tend to be a complainer myself, and kvetch a lot before pulling myself together and getting on with it. Hope you don’t mind being an inspiration! Judith

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  4. Hi Judith,
    Yes, home is a complicated concept. My most recent home, an apartment, is the first time since I graduated High School that I have all my stuff in one place. It’s the stuff, the memories, that makes this place Home more so than the physical space. Gigi

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