What’s Up With the Title?
The poem centers on an event that we don't even witness, and don't even learn about until we're many lines in—the death and burial of this couple's first child. The husband's family graveyard is within view of the window on their staircase, which is also where the confrontation we witness in this poem takes place. Thankfully, we have the title to clue us in from the beginning.
For the man, the matter of having dead family members in view is not a new one. In fact, it's No Big Deal altogether. His "people" have been buried there for who knows how long, and he's probably grown up seeing gravestones every single time he walks up and down this staircase. Hey, that's life (and death).
But for the woman, this graveyard, especially her child's grave, is too much to handle. Even worse, from the very window at which she stands during this poem, she watched her husband dig her son's grave with shovel strokes that seemed all too energetic and light for a man who should have been Grieving with a capital G.
So as much as the title of this poem, "Home Burial," tell us what the poem is about—a burial at a home—it doesn't even come close to explaining the conflict and grief that went along with this burial.
Note, though, that the title could also be read as the burial of a home, not a burial at a home. Because of the grief, pain, and conflict caused by this couple's loss, their home together, or at least any of the joy they once got from living together, could figuratively be dead and buried along with their child.
Hey, we never said it was a happy poem. If the title didn't clue you in, well, you're in for not a single treat.