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: