Study Guide

Home-Thoughts, from Abroad Stanza 1

By Robert Browning

Stanza 1

Lines 1-2

Oh, to be in England
Now that April's there,

  • It looks like we have a speaker with itchy feet on our hands—if you can picture that.
  • The guy (we're just assuming it's a guy at this point—check out "Speaker" for more) wants to be in England.
  • We also get the time of year when he makes his wish: April.
  • For some reason, April has significance for our speaker. It seems, too, that it might have significance for England, since April is "there."
  • Does that mean that April isn't "here," wherever the speaker is? Is this guy trapped in some kind of inter-dimensional time portal?
  • We'll just have to keep reading…

Lines 3-8

And whoever wakes in England
Sees, some morning, unaware,
That the lowest boughs and the brushwood sheaf
Round the elm-tree bole are in tiny leaf,
While the chaffinch sings on the orchard bough
In England—now!

  • No, it doesn't look like our speaker is a time traveler after all. He's just got an active imagination.
  • Specifically, he's imagining someone (not him) waking up in England—right at the moment he's talking to us in this poem.
  • That imagined person is seeing some pretty neat stuff (at least, according to the speaker).
  • The person is noticing how little leaves are budding on the trunk and lower branches ("boughs") of the elm tree.
  • It looks like this is the first time that this person has noticed that, because the speaker tells us that they were previously "unaware."
  • Botany notes: the "brushwood sheaf" is referring to those new saplings that start to spring off the main trunk of a tree and the "bole" is just a fancy name for a trunk.
  • Where there are trees, there are birdies, and this tree is no exception. A tiny songbird—a chaffinch—is chirping away in the branches of this orchard.
  • And, in case you forgot in the past few lines, the speaker reminds us that this is all going down in England, where he is not.
  • Before we head off to the second stanza, we'll just note that we have some serious end rhymes going on in these lines. We tell you all about what they're doing there over in "Form and Meter."

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