To D. R. P.

A poem by Wilfred S. Skeats

(In imitation of A. Lindsay Gordon.)


Well, Douglas, I'm sorry you've got to be homing,
Though I grant it's unwise to continue your roaming,
But the evening's to spare ere you drop me astern,
So come up to my room and indulge in a yarn.

Here's tobacco in plenty--"Gold Flake," very good;
No "Birdseye," or "Honeydew," that's understood.
But this isn't bad, though a stranger to you--
(Here is Dick: Bring up ginger and whiskey for two).

And now take a seat, there are two, as you see,
The red rocker for you and the other for me.
Don't demur, for no guests will arrive, I am sure;
If they do, why there's room on the bed or the floor.

So you're going to England again. Well, your visit
Has nigh made me homesick--no miracle, is it?
I was born there, and there I was nurtured and bred,
And I love the old land. (There's a match overhead).

It is four years ago, more than that, since I started
Away from my home. Well, I'm not chicken-hearted,
But your accent, your manner, the things you have said,
Have just taken me back to the life I once led.

And it seems there's a canker that Time will not heal,
Though I certainly thought that I never should feel
Its soreness again. I had settled down here,
Thinking happiness mine, till your lordship drew near.

And now, with your talk of the land of my birth,
All those sad recollections you rudely unearth.
Don't apologise, man, for I'm glad it is so,
There's a joy in the grief that I wouldn't forego.

There's a joy in remembering all that has been,
And recalling the pleasures that once I have seen;
And if bitterness follows, I'm ready to suffer,
For this morsel is sweet though the next may be tougher.

Let the fool in his folly anticipate sorrow,
I, for one, will refuse to take thought for the morrow.
There is joy in our life if we will but enjoy it;
But the most of us do what we can to destroy it.

For we fume and we worry and fret ourselves thin
By regret for what might be or what might have been;
And the blessings of life we incessantly miss
By ignoring entirely the pleasure that is.

You have taught me a lesson; though little you thought
Or intended to do it, the lesson is taught.
By your actions, not words, have I learned to be wise,
To embrace every joy, every sorrow despise.

Did I say that I thought there was happiness here?
I was wrong, for I know it; 'tis perfectly clear.
If you'll listen a bit, take your pipe up again
And continue your smoke, I will try to explain.

To begin with, the land I've adopted as mine
Has a place in my heart, a peculiar shrine.
And my love for the country is true and sincere;
If I can't live in England I wish to live here.

Then, I freely confess, if my way has been hard,
And my path somewhat rough, still I have my reward.
Let my rung on life's ladder be low as it may,
I have fought single-handed each step of the way.

It is well to have fortune, mayhap it is well
In the tents of the noble and titled to dwell;
But the man who has builded his home with his hand
Is the happiest man in the happiest land.

Let milord and milady inherit their wealth,
I am legatee only of vigor and health;
Every cent that I own has been earned by the sweat
Of my brow, and I'm proud to acknowledge it yet.

There's a happiness here every other beyond,
Except one: to be bound in the mystical bond
Which is woven with throbs of the heart that is true,
And the glances of eyes of a love-lightened hue.

And, perchance, even I may have tasted the bliss
That is found in the warmth of the soul-inspired kiss;
And it may have been mine--But I travel too fast.
It is time that the cobbler returned to his last.

But your silence has been philosophic and deep,
And I hope you've enjoyed--why, the man is asleep!
Only closing your eyes? Well, perhaps that will do
To tell the marines, but it's grossly untrue.

I was speaking of England? Undoubtedly so,
So I was, but it's just twenty minutes ago.
I've been talking since then in a serious strain,
And perhaps 'tis as well that I've spoken in vain.

Don't apologise. What, is it time for your train?
Well, Douglas, then here's to our meeting again
And meanwhile, old man, don't forget the pedantic
And long-winded fellow across the Atlantic.

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