The Homecoming

By Barbara Howes 1914–1996 Barbara Howes
All the great voyagers return
Homeward as on an arc of thought;   
Home like a ruby beacon burns
As they crest wind, scale wave, soar air;   
All the great voyagers return,

Though we who wait never have done   
Fearing the piteous accidents,
The coral reef sharp as the bones   
It has betrayed, fate’s cormorant   
Unleashed, whose diving’s never done.

Even the voyager of mind
May fail beneath behemoth’s weight;   
Oh, the world’s bawdy carcass blinds   
All but the boldest, rots the sails
And swamps the voyaging of the mind.

But all the great voyagers return
Home like the hunter, like the hare
To its burrow; below, earth’s axle turns
To speed their coming, the following fair
Winds bless their voyage, blow their safe return.

Barbara Howes, “The Homecoming” from In the Cold Country. Copyright 1954 by Barbara Howes. Reprinted with the permission of Grove/Atlantic, Inc.

Source: Collected Poems 1945-1990 (1995)

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Poet Barbara Howes 1914–1996

Subjects Nature, Seas, Rivers, & Streams, Activities, Travels & Journeys

Poetic Terms Rhymed Stanza


Despite being nominated for the 1995 National Book Award for her The Collected Poems of Barbara Howes, 1945-1990, the work of poet Barbara Howes has received relatively little publicity; Robert Richman, writing in the New York Times, called Howes "as obscure a worthy poet as I can think of." Usually alternating her backdrop between the gentle climate of the West Indies and the harsher landscape of her native New England, Howes's . . .

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SUBJECT Nature, Seas, Rivers, & Streams, Activities, Travels & Journeys

Poetic Terms Rhymed Stanza

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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