Study Guide

Home-Thoughts, from Abroad Speaker

By Robert Browning

Speaker

Our speaker likes England. He's a big fan. Okay, so maybe he's not as big a fan as this guy, but still.

What's so great about England in our speaker's eyes? Based on this poem, he really appreciates its natural beauty—especially during the spring. It's filled with songbirds and pear blossoms and buttercups, while he's stuck staring at some over-the-top melon flower.

This brings us to another important point about the speaker's relationship to England: it's a long distance arrangement. He's not, in fact, in England. Now, it's never a good idea to mix up a poet with his or her speaker, since poets frequently speak through invented characters. Thanks to our research, though, we do know that Robert Browning wrote this poem while he was travelling in Italy—a hotter and more melon-flowery country than England is in the springtime.

So, you might be forgiven if you were to think of the poem's speaker as Browning himself. In any case, we'd like to suggest that the most important thing about this guy is not his love of England, or his homesickness, but rather the power of his imagination.

Just check out the way he describes the scene:

Hark, where my blossomed pear-tree in the hedge
Leans to the field and scatters on the clover
Blossoms and dewdrops—at the bent spray's edge—
(11-13)

That's a lot of specific visual detail, which is even more impressive when you remember that it's coming straight out of the speaker's memory.

It's crucial to keep in mind, in fact, that this guy is relying on his recollection or imagination—or some combination of the two—when he describes what he misses about the English spring. He's not actually in England in this poem. Instead, it's the power of his thinking that renders the beautiful scene before us and makes us want to hop the next plane over.

In that way, then, the speaker does the same work as any poet. He uses his mind to draw us into an imagined world. And we don't even need a passport.

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