Study Abroad | Student Stories

Paul Blaney Poem

Finding Your Way Back

I could get used to this, you know
Move to a farmhouse halfway up a hill,
Grow roses, strawberries,
With one eye on the weather,
Make jam and elderflower cordial,
Get to know the local birdlife,
In baggy cords and tweed jacket,
Good shoes, stout for walking—
The English gentleman circa 1940—
Spend time in aged churches,
Maybe even worship (after my own fashion),
Pick a likely pub,
A stool at the bar for sidelong banter,
The dog curled up beneath,
A diet of real ale and local sausages,
Scones, cheese and pickle,
Do the crossword,
Listening to The Archers,
Read military history,
Follow the cricket and racing,
(Vote Tory? No, not that, but
Maybe Lib Dem),
Yes, I could get used to this,
It wouldn’t be hard
To put down roots in England’s soil,
Become more English than the English,
Except . . .

Except that I am English,
Albeit approximately so,
And this my native soil,
Not so much a zealous convert then
As a native son long
Strayed from the fold,
Did I really need to travel all that way
To find my way back home?
I wouldn’t be the first of course
Odysseus might have sat there by the fire
Or even come straight back from Troy
But instead he took the scenic route.
Perhaps we need a spell of feeling foreign
(Some of us longer than others)
A dose of discomfort,
Fish out of water,
Misfitness
To appreciate the charm of fitting in
Of home comforts,
To know when we’re well off,
Discover ourselves English after all.