What is the significance of 'Stayed home increasingly to find his way among the landscapes of her mind' in Dennis Scott's 'Marrysong'?
In particular the meaning behind 'Stayed home'
He never learned her, quite. Year after year
That territory, without seasons, shifted
under his eye. An hour he could be lost
in the walled anger of her quarried hurt
on turning, see cool water laughing where
the day before there were stones in her voice.
He charted. She made wilderness again.
Roads disappeared. The map was never true.
Wind brought him rain sometimes, tasting of sea -
and suddenly she would change the shape of shores
faultlessly calm. All, all was each day new;
the shadows of her love shortened or grew
like trees seen from an unexpected hill,
new country at each jaunty helpless journey.
So he accepted that geography, constantly strange.
Wondered. Stayed home increasingly to find
his way among the landscapes of her mind.
First, let me say, that as a married woman, I read this poem far differently than I would have while still single. To me, this is a poem about a married couple. The "year after year" suggests they have been together for a long time, and assumedly, if they are still together, the relationship is working.
The poem seems to be all about the man in the relationship (the husband in my view), and his desire to know and understand his wife. The words/imagery charted, wilderness, map, and journey are very masculine approaches to viewing a relationship. For a man, things are very black and white. He's thinking, if I just study her long enough, take notes, draw pictures, and lay everything out, I'll have her solved! Of course, this is not the way it works, because women's emotions are never so simple, so predictable, nor so organized. To me, the poem is all about his lifelong persuit of understanding his wife's moods, emotions, behavior, but never actually (fully) succeeding. The final line:
Stayed home increasingly to find his way among the landscapes of her mind
suggests, to me, that he is willing to devote more and more time to knowing her. This further suggests that he's doing it because he loves her. No one would devote so much energy into such an endless exploration, unless the devotion was connected to love. The image of a "landscape" for her mind shows that his pursuit is not futile, it is simply endless. She is so vastly complex that even if he devotes his entire life to "exploring" her, he'll never have enough time. And (I believe) he is okay with that. The tone of the poem suggests that there is a joy in the challenge.
The image, 'stayed home increasingly simply denotes that although at times he got frustrated by her volatile temperament, he did not give up, but 'stayed home' ie. stayed in the relationship. he did not stray from it, even though his hurt can be signified in the phrase 'tasting of sea', the sea denoting tears.
his use of the word, 'wondered' brings in a sense of doubt, of giving up. he is wondering if he should stay in the relationship. this phrase coming right after 'wondered' has a very powerful effect because it shows that their relationship was not always smooth sailing for him, as is barely hinted in the lines above. but the phrase 'stayed home ' removes all doubt. he accepts the flaws of his wife, and has made peace with their temperamentalrelationship.
the last two lines are a rhyming couplet, which denote he has given up trying to chart her, now resorting to just 'finding hisway' through his territory,' the landscapes of her mind.