Study Guide

Home-Thoughts, from Abroad Man and the Natural World

By Robert Browning

Man and the Natural World

An orchard isn't exactly natural in the way that, say, a forest is. The word "orchard" suggests that humans are stopping by on a regular basis, pruning tree limbs and picking fruit. Still, "Home-Thoughts, from Abroad" chooses to focus on the natural beauty that an orchard provides: budding leaves, falling blossoms, and happy little birds. We also get a view of a field of clover and a buttercup meadow, and all of these natural details are meant to convey a sense of harmony and peace. All of them, that is, except for that ugly old melon flower—that thing is just way too much for one man to take.

Questions About Man and the Natural World

  1. Why does this poem focus exclusively on natural imagery?
  2. What is the role of the various birds in this poem? What do you think is so "wise" about the thrush?
  3. How do the natural details of the poem create a contrast between the ideas of "home" and "abroad"?

Chew on This

The poem's use of natural imagery emphasizes how pure and unspoiled our notions of home are.

The speaker's view of the melon flower shows how our view of nature can be colored by our emotional state.

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