The Poem

(Critical Guide to Poetry for Students)

“Homesickness” is a short lyric poem in ten stanzas, each composed of four irregular lines. The meter of the poem is fundamentally iambic, but, as is characteristic of Marina Tsvetayeva’s lyrics, there are breaks formed by the ellipsis of verbs and nouns as well as by emotional exclamations. The rhythmical intonation creates a counterpoint to the formal metrical pattern.

“Homesickness” was written immediately before Tsvetayeva’s return to the Soviet Union. Tsvetayeva had emigrated to Europe (first to Berlin, then Prague, and finally to Paris) in 1922. Although the title of the lyric suggests that the poet is longing to return to her homeland, it becomes clear that the poem actually expresses the poet’s ambivalence about returning to a place that may no longer be home. The title, instead, concerns the poet’s desire to find a place where she and her poetry will be understood and welcomed.

Although Tsvetayeva often projected herself in the image of mythic or literary figures, this poem is written in the first person with no distinction implied between the poet and the speaker. Tsvetayeva’s work is often noted for its intimate tone and emotional candor. Considering that most of Tsvetayeva’s work is autobiographical in nature, and often confessional, it is helpful for readers of her poetry to be aware of certain biographical details.

Tsvetayeva left the Soviet Union, like many of her contemporaries, disillusioned...

(The entire section is 486 words.)