"Home Is The Place Where, When You Have To Go There, They Have To Take You In"

(Magill's Quotations in Context)

Context: Mary, a farmer's wife, greets her husband Warren, back from market, with the news, "'Silas is back,'" and the request, "'Be kind.'" Warren protests that he has always been kind, but he will "'not have the fellow back.'" Silas, Warren says, is unreliable; he left last year just when he was badly needed to help with the work. But Silas, trying in "'Some humble way to save his self respect,'" has returned with all kinds of hopes and talk of useful labor. He thinks about haying, which is, Warren admits, his "'one accomplishment./ He bundles every forkful in its place,/ And tags and numbers it for future reference,/ So he can find and easily dislodge it/ In the unloading.'" Warren insists that Silas has no more claim on them than on his own rich brother, who lives just thirteen miles away. But Mary explains, "'Worthless though he is,/ He won't be made ashamed to please his brother.'" When Warren has been prepared for the shock, Mary explains, in a passage which reveals the tone and philosophy of the poem, that Silas will not leave them again, "he has come home to die":

"Home," he mocked gently.
"Yes, what else but home?
It all depends on what you mean by home.
"Home is the place where, when you have to go there,
They have to take you in."
"I should have called it
Something you somehow haven't to deserve."