In the past many young men left home to roam the horizons of new opportunities and challenges. Many hopped onto old freight cars to see where the locomotive would take them.
Many hitchhiked across country, especially Route 66 in the USA. The villages and towns proffered what they believed was lacking in their own hamlet.
Many found a new life. Many found that the old saying about grass being greener in the next pasture was a myth.
Some found themselves on the wrong side of the law. In the poignant song—The Green Green Grass of Home, a young man remembers what his hamlet was like, especially the young lady he wanted to marry.
He dreams of returning home. However, it was only a dream, and the reality of a prison cell on death row shakes the young man back to the poignant fate that he will die alone and away from home.
Yeah, down the lane I’ll walk with my sweet Mary
Hair of gold and the lips like cherries
It’s good to touch the green, green grass of home
Yes, they’ll all come to meet me
Arms reachin’, smiling sweetly
Oh, it’s good to touch the green, green grass of home
In another song called Carrighfergus, an older man who had left home as a young lad in search of adventure remembers his youth in Carrighfergus. He longs for home and the true love he left behind.
However, he had fallen, like many men have in the past, to the thralldom of alcohol. For many, a glass or two or three of whiskey drowns the misery of life for a while.
The handsome rover is no more. He lies at death’s door.
His search for adventure will end in a lonely flat surrounded by his only friends—the empty bottles which have taken their mental and physical toll. Once he is dead, strangers will carry him to his final resting place far, far from home.
I wish I was in Carrigfergus
Only for nights in Ballygrant
I would swim over the deepest ocean
For my love to find
But the sea is wide and I cannot cross over
And neither have I the wings to fly
These two songs paint a portrait of a life wasted on this planet traversing the cosmos. When the end of life comes, the men can only remember how life was and long to be home among loved ones once again.
If you are far, far from home today, what keeps you from returning? One of the saddest fates is to die alone.
“The lives of men who have to live in our great cities are often tragically lonely. In many more ways than one, these dwellers in the hive are modern counterparts of Tantalus. They are starving to death in the midst of abundance. The crystal stream flows near their lips but always falls away when they try to drink of it. The vine, rich-weighted with its golden fruit, bends down, comes near, but springs back when they reach out to touch it…In other times, when painters tried to paint a scene of awful desolation, they chose the desert or a heath of barren rocks, and there would try to picture man in his great loneliness—the prophet in the desert, Elijah being fed by ravens on the rocks. But for a modern painter, the most desolate scene would have to be a street in almost any one of our great cities on a Sunday afternoon.”
― Thomas Wolfe, You Can’t Go Home Again
G. D. Williams © 2015
The Green Green Grass Of Home