Replies to an Exile

From an old friend who in exile
Now for many years has toiled
Come to me news interesting,
In a letter travel soiled,
Of the scenes met in his wandering
And each alien custom too,
But his heart is still o’erflowing
With the ways his childhood knew.

Life within western city
Where the heart of pleasure reigns;
Life entwined with strange adventure
On Oregan’s boundless plains;
Years spent in unbroken silence
With all friends at home but, yet,
One haunt of his early boyhood
He does not to-day forget.

In a plaintive style he queries
If the woods are still the same;
Is the old horse chestnut blooming
On whose bark he carved his name?
Is the rock on Sunday evening
Still a cherished rendezvous
And the valley as attractive
As it used to be to view?

Does the gloomey old Ghost’s Parlour
Still hang out o’er Daloo’s wave,
Or has time left yet unaltered
Lovers’ seat and Meelin’s Cave?
Do the lads in summer twighlight
Gather to the Island Kiln
And is ‘Pata’ in the homeland
For to throw the big weight still?

Thus run on this exile’s questions,
Thus his memories have told
That his heart is still in Erin
While he works for foreign gold
And the lessons that were nutured
Here within his guileless breast
Cling to-day like ivy tendrils
Round him in the far-off West.

Ah, dear friend, works built by nature
Time but rarely overthrows
And your homeland’s golden beauty
Each day only fairer grows.
Those dear places in your visions
No despoiling hand has seen.
Let them rest within your fancy
Brighter now than they have been.

by James Curran

This poem was written by James Curran who lived on the margin of the Island Wood. He was one of a small group of local poets that contributed poems to the Cork Weekly Examiner, a publication, that began in 1896 and continued well into the 20th Century.