What is a critical analysis of "Homecoming" by Lenrie Peters?

"Homecoming" by Lenrie Peters explores the longing to return to one's home, only to discover the emptiness it holds, occupied by "new skeletons" and without a "shadow." The poem can be seen as a reflection on nostalgia and the inclination to romanticize the past.

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This poem by Lenrie Peters is resigned and disappointed in its tone and uses an intriguing rhyme scheme with unexpected internal rhymes to reflect the arresting and, at times, disorienting feeling of returning home after having "longed" to do so.

The homecoming Peters depicts is one that is like a "skeleton" of what the speaker had perhaps expected. The paths of the hometown are "raw," and Peters rhymes "change" mid-line with "strange" in a way that catches the reader's attention, emphasizing the speaker's point. Two lines later, "arranged" provides a third rhyme, drawing attention to the speaker's musings about what times had been buried and what arrangements the speaker and his family have failed to make.

Peters creates a semantic field of plants, roots, and weeds, suggesting that the roots of the speaker and his family were ultimately "sapless," not resulting in anything but have provided the source for further "weeds" which have grown up in their place. His feelings about these "weeds" are ambiguous. Later, he describes those who now live in the house his family once owned as "skeletons" and remarks upon the house's closeness to a burial ground. He also describes it as casting no shadow, perhaps reflecting the idea that the family has not left a mark on the place they came from as the speaker may have hoped they had.

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This poem by twentieth-century Gambian poet Lenrie Peters explores nostalgia and change. The speaker longs to return to his past home, only to find when he gets there that everything feels different.

Peters creates a sense of rhythm in this poem by using four-line stanzas and a traditional rhyme scheme in which the end word of the second and fourth lines in each stanza rhyme. He employs imagery to convey how his speaker's former home has changed: for example, "luxuriant weeds" have overtaken a path that once led to the water's edge.

The poem uses recurrent death images to suggest the uncanniness or eeriness of trying to return to the past. The uncanny, according to Freud, is that part of life we try to hide from ourselves, especially the reality of death. In this poem, images associated with dying appear repeatedly: "buried," "burial," "skeletons," and "shadows." Returning home is, for the speaker, an eerie reminder that life moves on and people die.

The fact that the past can't be reclaimed as it was haunts the speaker. The house he once lived in is near a burial ground, a symbol of life's fleeting nature, and it is occupied by a new set of "skeletons," people also destined to pass on. The poem ends on a note of resignation as the poet accepts he can't fulfill his longing to go home again.

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Lenrie Peters's poem "Homecoming" is about nostalgia and the inevitability of change. In the opening stanza of the poem, the speaker says that "The present reigned supreme / Like the shallow floods over the gutters." The simile here, comparing the present to "shallow floods," suggests that change is ongoing. Indeed, even the present is emphasized as transitory. Its reign is referred to in the past tense ("reigned"), and it is "shallow" rather than deep. Water is also an appropriate image, as it suggests that time, including the present, continues to flow.

The seeming suddenness of change is also emphasized in the poem. In the second stanza, the speaker says that the change between the past and the present is "Too strange" and happens before one has time to ensure that one's memories are "properly arranged." The implication is that we usually do not notice the passing of time, so that when we occasionally do, it seems to have passed suddenly.

In the third stanza, the speaker alludes to the fact that the past and the present are connected, with the latter being informed and nourished by the former. The speaker says that the "sapless roots" of the past "have fed / The wind-swept seedlings of another age." This metaphor suggests that the present grows out of the past, just as a tree grows from its roots.

In the fourth stanza, the speaker returns to the idea that time is constantly moving. He says that the house that he used to occupy is now inhabited by "new skeletons." This is a metaphorical reference to the living people in the house. By referring to them as "skeletons," the speaker is alluding to their inevitable mortality. They too will be skeletons one day, just like all those that have passed before them.

In the final stanza, the speaker suggests that the feeling of nostalgia is inevitably disappointing. Although the speaker has returned to the home he used to live in, the positive feelings that he was expecting to feel again have eluded him. Time has changed, and the house that used to be his home is his home no longer.

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