Week 201: The Homecoming, by Anna Wickham

Anna Wickham (the pen-name of Edith Alice Mary Harper, 1883–1947) wrote this sad poem after her husband was killed in an accident in 1929. The marriage had been a troubled one: he was a solicitor who would have preferred his wife to be less bohemian and was hostile to her poetry-writing, while she came to despise his middle-class respectability, which explains why her grief in the poem is compounded by more than the usual measure of regret for what might have been, should have been and had not been.

The Homecoming

I waited ten years in the husk
That once had been our home,
Watching from dawn to dusk
To see if he would come.

And there he was beside me
Always at board and bed;
I looked – and woe betide me
He I had loved was dead.

He fell at night on the hillside,
They brought him home to his place,
I had not the solace of sorrow
Till I had looked at his face.

Then I clasped the broken body
To see if it breathed or moved,
For there, in the smile of his dying,
Was the gallant man I had loved.

O wives come lend me your weeping,
I have not enough of tears,
For he is dead who was sleeping
These ten accursed years.

Anna Wickham

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