Home B urial
Answers 2Add Yours
The poem describes two tragedies: first, the death of a young child, and second, the death of a marriage. As such, the title “Home Burial,” can be read as a tragic double entendre. Although the death of the child is the catalyst of the couple’s problems, the larger conflict that destroys the marriage is the couple’s inability to communicate with one another. Both characters feel grief at the loss of the child, but neither is able to understand the way that their partner chooses to express their sorrow. With her position closest to the window, the wife is clearly still struggling with her grief over the loss of her baby. Incapable of moving on at this point in her life, the wife defines her identity in terms of the loss and would rather grieve for the rest of her life than grieve as a sort of pretense. I don't think there is a right or wrong reaction for a mother over a child's death and, never experiencing this tragedy, would not pretend to know how she should feel. I think that most marriages do not survive the death of a child, the loss is just too much.
I think the three things the wife is upset about is, of course, the death of her child, her husbands seeming callousness towards the catastrophe, or, at least his inability to express his grief about it, and finally, the utter final loneliness and finality of death itself.
The husband tries, albeit unsuccessfully, to address the first two of his wife's concerns. He tries to console her in her grief, saying, "Let me into your grief", even while he admits, "My words are nearly always an offence, I don't know how to speak of anything so as to please you. But I might be taught". Although he is unable to reach her, he is able to at least address the issues, and makes an attempt to understand.
The last of his wife's complaints is something the husband cannot do anything about, because it concerns the very nature of humankind. The wife laments, "from the time when one is sick to death, one is alone, and he dies more alone...the world's evil". She is expressing the sense that true communication is impossible ("You couldn't care!), and that man is doomed to live life in isolation, a condition that only becomes worse after death.