Cicely Fox Smith

(1882-1954 / England)

The Portsmouth Road


As I went down the Portsmouth Road, a careless, rambling fellow,
The stormcock whistled on the bough, a stave both loud and mellow;
To hear his song I paused awhile, then tossed it back with laughter,
But all along the seaward road, I heard it follow after:

'East &mdash West &mdash home is best &mdash you'll wander far and lone, lad,
But of all the lands you'll find on Earth, there's none just like your own, lad.'

As I went down the Portsmouth Road my step was light and merry;
I met a tramping gipsy wife, as brown as any berry;
She told my fortune for a crown, but little did it please me
To hear her speaking once again the same old words to tease me:

'East &mdash West &mdash home is best &mdash you'll wander far and lone, lad,
But of all the lands you'll find on Earth, there's none just like your own, lad.'

I wandered here, I rambled there, since I set off that morning,
And many's the time I thought about that gipsy's word of warning;
And many a strange far land I saw, and gaudy foreign city,
And often enough did seem to hear once more the stormcock's ditty:

'East &mdash West &mdash home is best &mdash you'll wander far and lone, lad,
But of all the lands you'll find on Earth, there's none just like your own, lad.'

As I came up the Portsmouth Road, my bundle on my shoulder,
The years had come, the years had gone, and I was growing older;
The wayside fires were white and cold, the leaves were turning yellow,
And never a gipsy crossed my path, nor stormcock whistled mellow:

'East &mdash West &mdash home is best &mdash you'll wander far and lone, lad,
But of all the lands you'll find on Earth, there's none just like your own, lad.'

But, what cared I for silent bird, or what for fires forsaken,
From many a land and many a sea whose homeward road was taken?
The gipsy's words were in my heart, afire to cheer and warm me,
And all the way the stormcock's tune, went singing on before me:

'East &mdash West &mdash home is best &mdash you'll wander far and lone, lad,
But of all the loves you'll find on Earth, there's none just like your own, lad.'

Submitted: Tuesday, August 31, 2010

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