The Tracks That Lie By India

A poem by Henry Lawson

Now this is not a dismal song, like some I’ve sung of late,
When I’ve been brooding all day long about my muddled fate;
For though I’ve had a rocky time I’ll never quite forget,
And though I never was so deep in trouble and in debt,
And though I never was so poor nor in a fix so tight,
The tracks that run by India are shining in my sight.

The roads that run by India, and all the ports of call,
I’m going back to London first to raise the wherewithal.
I’ll call at Suez and Port Said as I am going past
(I was too worried to take notes when I was that way last),
At Naples and at Genoa, and, if I get the chance,
Who knows but I might run across the pleasant land of France.

The track that runs by India goes up the hot Red Sea,
The other side of Africa is far too dull for me.
(I fear that I have missed a chance I’ll never get again
To see the land of chivalry and bide awhile in Spain.)
I’ll graft a year in London, and if fortune smiles on me
I’ll take the track to India by France and Italy.

’Tis sweet to court some foreign girl with eyes of lustrous glow,
Who does not know my language and whose language I don’t know;
To loll on gently-rolling decks beneath the softening skies,
While she sits knitting opposite, and make love with our eyes,
The glance that says far more than words, the old half-mystic smile,
The track that runs by India will wait for me awhile.

The tracks that run by India to China and Japan,
The tracks where all the rovers go, the tracks that call a Man!
I’m wearied of the formal lands of parson and of priest,
Of dollars and of fashions, and I’m drifting towards the East;
I’m tired of cant and cackle, and of sordid jobbery,
The mystery of the East hath cast its glamour over me.

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