Where Is My Home?

If you were a child in a happy flock
How could you possibly understand
How it was that I grew to hate the day,
A constant hostile danger,
And felt abandoned: a stranger.

Only perhaps on some night in May,
With the scents of Spring, would I be
Secretly content.

By day imprisoned by the tight ring
Of cowardly duty, devotedly performed;
Escaping in the evenings, not hearing
The sound of a tiny window opening
And a butterfly taking my longing
On a silent voyage to the stars to ask:
Where is my home?

~ Rainer Maria Rilke

So many fortunate people were raised “in a happy flock.” I often think about how different they are from those who were raised with the constant threat of the wolf because they lacked shepherding, or perhaps were even raised by wolves.

Rilke’s poem so beautifully expresses how difficult it is to be happy or content as a state of mind when one’s soul was schooled in loneliness, anxiety, and abandonment. With such a history, a person has to work to establish and maintain an inner hearth offering nurture and warmth.

We are always seeking home.

3 responses

  1. I was crying before I read the poem and reading it made me cry even harder. I feel as though something has broken open inside of me.

    My soul was schooled in loneliness, anxiety and abandonment, you’re so right. It’s all I ever knew. Now what?

    How do I establish an inner hearth that offers nurture and warmth?

    How do I find my home?

    • Lilith, I think it is the work of a lifetime to establish an inner hearth that offers nurture and warmth. I couldn’t have done it without the blessing of love in my life, and I don’t mean just from a husband or children–I particularly mean the love of peers, mostly of other women who have suffered and felt lonely and who still reach out and love.

      But, to answer in theory, we do it in all the ways we’ve always talked about doing it. We’re on the right path, it just takes a lifetime to get there. I know you have an inner hearth because you’ve showed it…. I think that, like me, you want to linger there more and more and more.

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