This collection of poems on the theme of 'Voices' was collated by Dr Sue Dymoke of Leicester University.
The son they love came home then went away.
They asked him why he cried out every night.
He didn't tell them and he couldn't stay.
They try to reach him but he'll never write.
They lie togther...
In ‘Coming Home’, the poet’s introduction and the poem itself eloquently remind us that we must leave our comfort zone and make a great empathic effort to see through the narrator’s eyes in order to hear the story being told. As the poet himself tells us, it is the only way to gauge ‘just how far these experiences were from the security of my own family life’. By making use of the unprecedented luxury of being able to listen to the poet’s prologue, we are enriching our understanding of experiences of war, loss, and the anxiety of alienation, which will help us to gain a better understanding of contemporary and preceding war poems.
Suggestions for class:
- Read the poem first without the poet’s foreword, then after a guided discussion, listen to the poet’s explanations and reading
- Discuss what, if anything, has been added to our knowledge and understanding of the poem
- Look back at some of the most enigmatic Old English poems such as ‘The Wife’s Lament’ and ‘The Husband’s Message’ and reassess how we can fill in the gaps of our scarce knowledge of the context of these poems and see into the narrator’s minds