HOMEWARD BOUND - Perceval Gibbon Poems


Poems » perceval gibbon » homeward bound


It's goodbye now to Africa, but kiss your hand again
To the upland trek and the old trade road and kop and kloof and plain;
    There's another trek instead for us,
    And a long strange road ahead for us,
But never the old home outspan, however the team may strain.

I'm thinking now of the lonely day when first I landed here;
The clouds were down on the mountain -- a rainy day and drear,
    And in all the voices greeting us,
    And in all the people meeting us,
There was never a soul to welcome me, and never a word of cheer.

And I'm thinking, too, of the long lean years and the uphill fight I made,
The good grim faith in the end of it and the footing dearly paid,
    The joy and the pain and the vice of it,
    The loss and the gain and the price of it,
And the jerrybuilt gods I trusted in and the darkling ways I strayed.

But all the same, I wouldn't forego the curious things I've seen,
The roofless nights and foodless days and the purple in between.
    It's over late to fret for it,
    And the world shall pay me yet for it,
But the rough-and-tumble left me brown where the handshake found me green.

There are many things you come to see when the final crust is gone:
The rotting souls of splendid men and truth with nothing on,
    Life and the sorry way of it,
    The world and the devious lay of it;
Only half of them honest brawn and the rest is what they don.

And it's fine to think, when you've time to think, of the wonderful things you do,
With a grin for the worst, and a nod for the best, and grit to hold you to,
    Till you face your job and are one with it,
    Till you tackle your share and are done with it,
Till you stand to the odds with an appetite and see the lost fight through.

It's soft we come and hard we go, and little enough we get,
But we win a streak of ore within that will pan out colour yet.
    With nothing in the hand and bluffing it,
    With nothing in the purse and roughing it,
We play big stakes with Africa and leave the game in debt.

And now we're leaving Africa! Oh, kiss your hand once more,
To the good old, tough old, grand old land that lies beyond the shore;
    And to-night, dear heart, we'll be dreaming of it,
    And to-morrow we'll be sad for the seeming of it:
There's a life and a love astern of us, but Lord knows what before.