Wednesday, 19 March 2008


“Home is where the heart is.” - Pliny the Elder (Caius Plinius Secundus)

How welcome a sight one’s home is after one has been away. No matter how enjoyable travel may be, no matter how exciting the distant destinations and no matter how good a time one has while away, the home hearth is where the heart feels most comfortable. Like the migratory bird that returns to its nest year after year, the traveller will come home and settle in, content in familiar surroundings.

But there is also another kind of return… The return of the traveller who having spent many years in foreign lands one day returns to the place of his origin. How expectant is that return! Nostalgia has made of memory a sacred shrine. Remembrance has eradicated all unpleasantness and time has conspired with distance to idealise the lost homeland. How disappointing that return is when all one sees is a poor parody of what the expectant heart wishes to find… All is changed, all has progressed, all is well nigh unrecognizable. Here is the foreign land now, this place which one called home before, is now but a travesty of that sacred place that one had so carefully preserved in one’s innermost secret chambers of the heart.

The Return

My heart searches to slake its thirst
In heady wine of the return, so ruby-red.
Vermillion poppies are sweet draughts
In emerald chalice of unripened corn.

My heart searches to revivify itself
With life-giving blood and godly breath.
Anemones like drops of blood on hillsides
And in the azure of sky a breath of god.

My heart searches for a familiar word to hear,
A smiling friendly face to warm itself.
In every boat of the Aegean I see a letter writing “welcome”
While ancient statues smile at me like next of kin.

My heart searches far and wide for honey, balsam,
A therapy for all its wounds so that it love again.
Violet-coloured, scented evenings in islands white
And fragrances are medicine enough in nights so sweet.

My heart searches for all of these and more,
But time inexorably flows, it passes, destroys all.
Time conquers all that I knew and fondly recalled,
Return is poison, soured wine and bitter gall.

1 comment:

  1. This is so beautiful, and so sad. I have moved from my homeland, but I have not gone very far, and I have not been gone very long. But, even now, I find some of this when I go back. I expect to find home, and, instead, I find a place that is in many ways unfamiliar. I think in some respects we can never fully go back, but it's natural to wish otherwise. Brilliantly expressed!