In the Tropics

by Arthur Stringer

Arthur Stringer

(O to be in Ireland wid me youth again,
Half a world from palm-three, half a world from this!
O to be in Ireland, where the coolin' rain
Falls across the green hills like a woman's kiss!)

U P and down the withered turf
Here I pace the ould Parade,
Listenin' to the Tropic surf
Where the Band-stand music brayed.

Here the gintry go and come,
Shlow beneath a milk-white moon
Round as yonder kettle-drum
Throbbin' out its home-sick toon.

Round and round they drift and pass,
Thro' the palms they wheel and roam,
Where the Regimintal Brass
Plays its wishtful songs av Home.

Shlow and stately as the dead,
On they move from light to light,
Soljer-men in glarin' red,
Ladies in their ghostly white.

Long I've watched thim as they pass
Where the sea-wall shmells av musk
And the palm-fronds green as brass
Whisper thro' the Thrade-swept dusk.

Long I've marked thim come and go
Where the swayin' lantherns shine,
Where the white electhrics glow,
Where the Band-stand cornets whine;

Where the trombones pulse and blare
Wid some shlow and stately toon,
Where the sea-wind shtirs the air
And the coral beaches croon.

Long I've watched thim here alone,
Till the palms and music seem
Ghosts av things I've scarcely known,
Ghosts that thrail across a dream;

And the soft and shleepy Cross,
Shinin' from its shleepy dome,
Seems to tell thim av their loss,
Half a world away from Home.

But I've left no Home behind,
And there's naught beyont the Sea,
Naught av kith nor wimmen-kind
Waitin' for the likes av me.

Yet I listen, wid the ache
Av a man who's known his dead,
While the ould toons shtir and wake
Things I've put beyont me head.

And I watch thim wid a blur
Creepin' thro' the ould Parade,
Where the cliff-palms wake and shtir
In the soft and sultry Thrade.

(O to be in Ireland where the cool rain falls,
Where the meltin' green shlopes meet the tender light,
Where across the whin the tawney owlet calls,
Where the settlin' grouse-crow tells av comin' night!)

Life I've lived, and Youth I've had,
Yet no home is home to me:
Faith, I've loved it, good and bad,
Lane and city, land and sea!

But I sthill must take me way
To the ends av all the earth,
Fine me port, and drain me day,
Askin' what the game is worth.

So I watch the gintry walk,
Heart-sick wimmen white as foam,
Heat-sick faces white as chalk,
Half a world away from Home.

And I hark the sad ould croon
Av the swingin' Tropic Sea,
Till the palm and Cross and moon
Seem but ghosts av things to me.

And I wander thro' a dream,
And the men I walk beside
Nothin' more than spirits seem—
And I know me youth has died!

—Died and went this many a year
With a gerrl they buried deep
Where the hawthorn's growin' near
And the coolin' lough-winds creep!

O to be in Ireland where that blue lough lies!
O to hear the home-like clap av pigeon's wing!
O to see the bog-lands greet the mornin' skies!
O to be in Ireland, waitin' for the Spring!

But I'll niver more be seein' my ould Home,
Niver hear the ould voice callin' thro' the rain,
Niver see the Headlands flashin' wid their foam,
And niver win me lost youth back to me again!

Last updated September 07, 2017