What is it you see From up there always?—for I want to know. . . . I will find out now—you must tell me, dear.
In the poem “Home Burial,” the husband/father defines his character in his first lines. Despite his wife’s fear and refusal to share her grief, he almost begs her to tell him what she is feeling. He recognizes the breakdown in their communication and clearly wants to reconnect and know how to help his wife as they both grieve the loss of their child.
The wonder is I didn’t see it at once. I never noticed it from here before. I must be wonted to it—that’s the reason. The little graveyard where my people are! So small the window frames the whole of it . . . But I understand: it is not the stones, But the child’s mound——
In this moment from “Home Burial,” the husband/father realizes that his wife sees things differently than he does as they both grieve in their own ways. He clarifies that while he looks at the experience in a matter-of-fact way, the wife/mother can only see the sadness and loss. In these lines, the husband/father finally seems to grasp a little bit of what the wife/mother feels.
“Amy! Don’t go to someone else this time. Listen to me. I won’t come down the stairs.” He sat and fixed his chin between his fists. “There’s something I should like to ask you, dear.”
Here, in “Home Burial,” the husband/father pleads with his wife to let him in and lean on him during this difficult time instead of leaving. As these lines reveal, he wants to reconnect with her and even requests that she not turn to someone else for comfort this time. Even though the husband/father’s attempts to reconnect may be coming late, he shows sincere effort and care for his wife in these moments.
My words are nearly always an offense. I don’t know how to speak of anything So as to please you. But I might be taught, I should suppose.
In these lines in “Home Burial,” the husband/father explains that he feels like he can’t say or do anything right when his wife’s grief is involved. He admits that he needs help; he wants his wife to show him what to do or say. However, his weakness or lack of understanding ultimately leads to their communication breakdown and, later, the dissolution of their marriage.
We could have some arrangement By which I’d bind myself to keep hands off Anything special you’re a-mind to name. Though I don’t like such things ’twixt those that love. Two that don’t love can’t live together without them. But two that do can’t live together with them.
In these lines from “Home Burial,” the husband/father shows his true character and belief in his marriage. Through these lines, he declares that he doesn’t want to leave important words unsaid because he and his wife can’t live with this type of space between them. He insists that there is love in their home and they must reconnect on all levels to be happy.
Don’t carry it to someone else this time. Tell me about it if it’s something human. Let me into your grief. I’m not so much Unlike other folks as your standing there Apart would make me out. Give me my chance.
In this section of “Home Burial,” the husband/father again pleads with his wife to share her grief with him, to let him be there for her in the way that she needs. With this request, the husband shows his fortitude and persistence as he tries to convince his wife that she can trust him and turn to him during this difficult time. Even though the wife feels isolated because they have been dealing with their grief differently, the husband encourages her to give him another chance.
I do think, though, you overdo it a little. What was it brought you up to think it the thing To take your mother-loss of a first child So inconsolably—in the face of love.
As the husband/father in “Home Burial” tries to reconnect with his wife, he undercuts his efforts by doing exactly what made his wife feel isolated to begin with. Here, the husband questions the extremity of his wife’s grief, asking her why she takes their child’s death so hard, why she’s been grieving for so long. While he may be well-intentioned, the husband/father fails to empathize with his wife, which in turn only expands the distance between them.
You make me angry. I’ll come down to you. God, what a woman! And it’s come to this, A man can’t speak of his own child that’s dead.
In these lines from “Home Burial,” the husband/father tries to explain how his wife’s reaction to his honest emotions makes him feel. While his wife interprets his actions and expressions as not caring about the loss of their child, he views her response as though she won’t let him grieve in his own way. He becomes angry after working hard to connect with her only to feel judged and blocked regardless of his efforts and intentions. He reveals a great deal about his character’s real grief in these lines.
I can repeat the very words you were saying: ‘Three foggy mornings and one rainy day Will rot the best birch fence a man can build.’ Think of it, talk like that at such a time! What had how long it takes a birch to rot To do with what was in the darkened parlor? You couldn’t care!
In these lines from “Home Burial,” the wife/mother repeats something she heard the husband/father say in the days after their child’s death. While she believes he is talking about everyday things as if he is unaffected by grief, his words actually reveal a great deal about his character. Perhaps, he discusses how quickly a healthy child, “the best birch fence,” can be taken by death, or “rot.” As the husband’s grief is expressed differently than hers, the wife fails to see his grief at all.
“If—you—do!” She was opening the door wider. “Where do you mean to go? First tell me that. I’ll follow and bring you back by force. I will—”
In the final lines of the poem “Home Burial,” the husband/father demonstrates that he refuses to give up on his marriage. He declares that he will follow his wife and bring her back no matter what. While this pressure may push his wife away, these lines definitely reveal the husband’s dedication to his wife. While their grief separates and isolates them, the husband feels determined to reunite them with his love.