The theme of this ongoing series is our penchant for imagining that, despite evidence to the contrary (i.e., ourselves), there is an Ideal Place where Happiness awaits us. I hasten to add that I am not standing in judgment of this penchant, nor am I claiming immunity from it. I am a daydreamer and an escape artist of long standing. Hence, for example, my fondness for paintings depicting bucolic landscapes and charming villages of vanished times.
Starlings on the Roof
'No smoke spreads out of this chimney-pot,
The people who lived here have left the spot,
And others are coming who knew them not.
'If you listen anon, with an ear intent,
The voices, you'll find, will be different
From the well-known ones of those who went.'
'Why did they go? Their tones so bland
Were quite familiar to our band;
The comers we shall not understand.'
'They look for a new life, rich and strange;
They do not know that, let them range
Wherever they may, they will get no change.
'They will drag their house-gear ever so far
In their search for a home no miseries mar;
They will find that as they were they are,
'That every hearth has a ghost, alack,
And can be but the scene of a bivouac
Till they move their last -- no care to pack!'
Thomas Hardy, Satires of Circumstance, Lyrics and Reveries (1914).
"They will find that as they were they are" is Hardy's version of "wherever you go, there you are." Of course, Hardy being Hardy, the denouement in the final line is not unexpected.
If one reads Hardy's poetry for long enough a time, one becomes accustomed to encountering birds who comment upon the humans who inhabit their world. It now seems perfectly natural to me. I've grown quite fond of these talking birds. They are uncommonly wise and have a pleasing sense of humor. We are well advised to pay attention to what they say.