I am leaving for a few weeks for a return to England and Wales. My father held dual citizenship (U.S. and England) and many of my family are still there. Some of them still refer to this country as the “colonies,” humorously, of course. But these English ancestors originally came from a small town in Wales. And another family tree was on my mother’s side, when a ten-year-old boy from Dublin, Ireland came as an indentured servant to this country and took ten years to work it off. He later became the first congressman from Vermont, its first newspaper publisher, and an American hero for taking a stand against a president going to war.
I much prefer the term “Motherland” to “Fatherland.” Fatherland seems so militaristic, macho, and harsh, and when I hear the word I think of marching armies and conquests caused by men. The word Motherland, however, seems more gentle and kind to me. Home is where you come, they have to take you in, wrote the poet Robert Frost. A mother welcomes her children home, which is about I feel about the busy streets of London or the back roads of Welsh villages.
This will be my last return to the Motherland, unless someone can figure out how to get my ashes to the River Wye which runs by the ancient Tintern Abbey in Wales. All things considered, I can wait.
Meanwhile, I remember the words of the poet Wordsworth written from the same village where I will be staying about three hundred years later:
And I have felt
A presence that disturbs me with the joy
Of something far more deeply interfused….