It was on such a night as this,
Some long unreal years ago,
When all within were wrapp'd in sleep,
And all without was wrapp'd in snow,
The full moon rising in the east,
The old church standing like a ghost,
That, shivering in the wintry mist,
And breathless with the silent frost,
A little lad, I ran to seek my fortune on the main;
I marvel now with how much hope and with how little pain!
It is of such a night as this,
In all the lands where I have been,
That memory too faithfully
Has painted the familiar scene.
By all the shores, on every sea,
In luck or loss, by night or day,
My highest hope has been to see
That home from which I ran away.
For this I toil'd, to this I look'd through many a weary year,
I marvel now with how much hope, and with how little fear.
On such a night at last I came,
But they were dead I loved of yore.
Ah, Mother, then my heart felt all
The pain it should have felt before!
I came away, though loth to come,
I clung, and yet why should I cling?
When all have gone who made it home,
It is the shadow, not the thing.
A homeless man, once more I seek my fortune on the main:
I marvel with how little hope, and with what bitter pain.