Saturday, 25 September 2010


Home’s not merely four square walls,
Though with pictures hung and gilded.
Home is where affection calls,
Filled with treasures the heart hath builded.

Charles Swain

Home! When we are away from it the very word conjures up feelings of belonging, feelings of comfort, of familiarity. It can mean a house, apartment, a grand mansion or a hovel. What matters is not the structure but the love and the memories we have built within it. Home is not home unless there are others with whom to share it, for it is with others we have built those precious memories; memories of love and tenderness; memories of joy and happiness; memories of pain and sadness; memories of birth and death, of arrivals and departures, of celebration and commiseration.

To many, home is a country, a city, a town or a village and thinking of this my mind turns to those forcibly separated from their homes and loved ones by war. Those whose love for their country is such that they are willing to make the ultimate sacrifice and give their lives to protect it and what it stands for. In particular my mind is drawn to the English lyric poet Rupert Brooke, whose longing for his home county of Cambridgeshire and for his beautiful home there is so perfectly described in “The Old Vicarage, Granchester.” It was written while he was travelling in Germany and here are the first two verses:

Just now the lilac is in bloom,
All before my little room;
And in my flower-beds, I think,
Smile the carnation and the pink;
And down the borders, well I know,
The poppy and the pansy blow . . .
Oh! there the chestnuts, summer through,
Beside the river make for you
A tunnel of green gloom, and sleep
Deeply above; and green and deep
The stream mysterious glides beneath,
Green as a dream and deep as death.
— Oh, damn! I know it! and I know
How the May fields all golden show,
And when the day is young and sweet,
Gild gloriously the bare feet
That run to bathe . . .
'Du lieber Gott!'

Here am I, sweating, sick, and hot,
And there the shadowed waters fresh
Lean up to embrace the naked flesh.
Temperamentvoll German Jews
Drink beer around; — and THERE the dews
Are soft beneath a morn of gold.
Here tulips bloom as they are told;
Unkempt about those hedges blows
An English unofficial rose;
And there the unregulated sun
Slopes down to rest when day is done,
And wakes a vague unpunctual star,
A slippered Hesper; and there are
Meads towards Haslingfield and Coton
Where das Betreten's not verboten.

Rupert Brooke fought in World War One and died of septicaemia on board ship in the Aegean in 1915. The following short poem was written by him in late 1914. It is called The Soldier and shows just how deeply this young man cared for his country:

If I should die, think only this of me:
That there's some corner of a foreign field
That is for ever England. There shall be
In that rich earth a richer dust concealed;
A dust whom England bore, shaped, made aware,
Gave, once, her flowers to love, her ways to roam,
A body of England's, breathing English air,
Washed by the rivers, blest by suns of home.

And think, this heart, all evil shed away,
A pulse in the eternal mind, no less
Gives somewhere back the thoughts by England given;
Her sights and sounds; dreams happy as her day;
And laughter, learnt of friends; and gentleness,
In hearts at peace, under an English heaven.

The other day I wrote about “Our Home” (Nosso Lar) the film based on the book given to the Brasilian medium Chico Xavier through Automatic Writing. Today, I bring our thoughts nearer to the Earth but with a spiritual understanding of the importance of our home and its surroundings, wherever it may be.

Be happy, thank God for your home and those who share it and have shared it with you.

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