Yearnings for Home
Updated: May 23, 2020
Oh let me go I’m weary here And fevers scorch my brain, I long to feel my native air Breathe o’er each burning vein.
I long once more to see My home among the distant hills, To breathe amid the melody Of murmering brooks and rills.
My home is where eternal snow Round threat’ning craters sleep, Where streamlets murmer soft and low And playful cascades leap.
Tis where glad scenes shall meet My weary, longing eye; Where rocks and Alpine forests greet The bright cerulean sky.
Your scenes are bright I know, But there my mother pray’d, Her cot is lowly, but I go To die beneath its shade.
For, Oh I know she’ll cling ‘Round me her treasur’d long, My sisters too will sing Each lov’d familiar song.
They’ll soothe my fever’d brow, As in departed hours, And spread around my dying couch The brightest, fairest flowers.
Then let me go I’m weary here And fevers scorch my brain, I long to feel my native air, Breathe o’er each burning vein.
-Francis Ellen Watkins Harper
-Francis Ellen Watkins Harper (RIP 1825-1911) was a Black poet, teacher, suffragist and abolitionist. This is one of her really touching, universal poems in her longing for home and family as one faces death. There seems a very broad comfort that people feel in returning home or to well loved places as one faces death. And of course most people hope to know the presence and love of family when our mortality arrives. However, in this mobile moving world, many times these hopes are not met at death. Sadly some of us will die alone and far away from places and people we love. Death during wars are often made more difficult for the dying and their loved ones when they happen alone and far away. Right now we are living through the Covid-19 pandemic and like in other such pandemics, the sick are isolated so as to protect others from infection, which can mean dying alone, without family and away from home. As health professionals usually anything we can do to assist family, friends presence or for hospice re-locations to home can be of sincere comfort. However even when these may not be possible, pictures, shared memories, comforting music, favorite foods or smells, and any other small acts can still be of some support to those faced with dying alone and away from home. Harper has given us a gift with this insightful and loving poem.