“Home! That was what they meant, those caressing appeals…”*

*Kenneth Grahame, The Wind in the Willows (1908).

Tom Heyden reported at BBC.co.uk on 5 June 2013:

“…Literary references to homesickness go as far back as Homer’s Odyssey. But the modern term was coined in the 17th Century to describe the feelings of Swiss mercenaries, who longed for their homeland while fighting elsewhere in Europe. Much in demand for their skills with the pike and near-suicidal bravery, it was said that they were banned from singing Swiss songs on the basis that nostalgia would overwhelm them, leaving them useless. In the 17th Century it used to be seen as a dangerous disease that people could die from, says Dr Susan Matt, author of Homesickness: An American History. Gradually it came to be considered childish and immature, she says, ill-fitting to a culture of capitalism and imperialism…”

From: Elizabeth Bishop – A Miracle for Breakfast (2017), by Megan Marshall:

“Through the fall and winter months at Yaddo in late 1950, Elizabeth worked fitfully on the story about her mother, now called “Homesickness,” and a poem of the same title…

Had Elizabeth’s own “homesickness,” the frightening sensation she’d had of being “whirled off from all the world” on her first transatlantic voyage, recurred as, more lonely than she’d been since leaving college, she mourned her confessor, Ruth Foster? Elizabeth labelled her journal for 1950 “worst year.” She would not finish the story in which Juno was meant to accomplish a rescue. Could she have longed, without being able to say so, for a Juno, the promiscuous but passionate lover in The Stone Wall? The poem trailed off, an unfinished fragment –

…not even realising she was weeping

her face nightgown drenched –

It was too late – for what, she did not know. –

already -, remote,

irrepairable… irreparable.

Beneath the bed the big dog thumped her tail.

Megan Marshall writes of her own experience:

October 5, 1976 (Robinson Hall, Harvard Yard):

I had known homesickness – unjustified, unwarranted. How could I miss a home where I could not bring friends, where I felt lonely or fearful except at the piano or behind the pages of a book? But still, when I left California for Vermont, as the unfamiliar trees turned red and yellow and dropped their leaves, when a foot of snow fell on Thanksgiving Day and I woke alone in the white clapboard dormitory, I felt something like homesickness – though I was glad to be far away on the holiday and did not miss my home, I told myself, trying to explain away the otherwise unexplainable feeling that I was lost, misplaced.”

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