Study Guide

Home-Thoughts, from Abroad Birds

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England is for the birds. At least, you'd be forgiven if that were the impression you came away with from this poem. We have all kinds of feathered friends, flitting about the lines of "Home-Thoughts, from Abroad." And we're not talking vultures or crows or pigeons here. The birds described here tend to be dainty, pretty things that add to the general sweetness of the scene that the speaker is imagining. As such, they become a useful symbol of the idyllic land to which the speaker longs to return.

  • Line 7: The chaffinch "sings" on a tree limb ("orchard bough") here, building on our sensory impression of the beautiful scene being described.
  • Line 10: We have two birds in this line. Bird 1 is the whitethroat, which is busy building. This is another image of serene, productive nature—assuming that it's not building some kind of Wile E. Coyote trap. Bird 2 is the swallow, and who doesn't like swallows? They flit around busily and generally add another element of natural splendor to the speaker's memory.
  • Line 14: The last bird we get in this poem is the "wise thrush." Not only is this bird smart beyond his years, he's also loving life. That explains the "rapture" with which he sings his song. You'd be amazed that he could repeat such a feat, but the speaker let us know that he can. That's how into life this little birdy is. His song adds yet another dimension of detail to the natural serenity that the speaker is missing out on.

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