Home-thoughts, From Abroad "The First Fine Careless Rapture"

Robert Browning

"The First Fine Careless Rapture"

(Magill's Quotations in Context)

Context: Though it is widely believed that "Home-Thoughts, from Abroad" was written during Browning's first visit to Italy in 1838, W. C. DeVane said that it was probably written in England during April, 1845. (A Browning Handbook, 1935, pp. 147–148.) Regardless of place and date of composition, though, the poem is suffused with the poet's love of the sights and sounds of an English spring. In the first stanza he longs to be in England "Now that April's there," to see the tiny leaves "Round the elm-tree bole" and hear the chaffinch sing. In the second stanza he remembers the full spring of May, and at the end he contrasts the gaity of English buttercups with a "gaudy melon-flower" symbolic of spring in Italy. Stanza two follows:

And after April, when May follows,
And the whitethroat builds, and all the swallows!
Hark, where my blossomed pear-tree in the hedge
Leans to the field and scatters on the clover
Blossoms and dewdrops–at the bent spray's edge–
That's the wise thrush; he sings each song twice over,
Lest you should think he never could recapture
The first fine careless rapture!
And though the fields look rough with hoary dew,
All will be gay when noontide wakes anew
The buttercups, the little children's dower
–Far brighter than this gaudy melon-flower!