The Rhyme of the Prodigal

You've youth and a girl and plenty of gold, what more can your heart desire?—
Did it ever content the heart of youth to sit at home by the fire?
I am leaving half my land to you and half of my flocks and herds—
And I'd rather shepherd alien sheep and live on whey and curds.
Don't go, don't go, my own little son, and leave me all alone—
Will you never remember I'm not a child but a youth that's nigh man-grown?
Think of your brother, your elder brother,— would you leave him all to bear?—
He's only a brother of mine by birth who seldom speaks me fair,
And I've had a dream, a wonderful dream of brothers that wait for me,
Men made brethren by perils borne together on land and sea.
Think of your mother, your own dear mother, and ponder what is best.
Would you tie me fast to an apron-string and make me a village jest?
Your pallet is fine and soft with wool and you sleep in the Upper Room—
And I'd liefer be in a fo'c'sle hold where one lamp swings in the gloom,
In the fo'c'sle hold of a great-sailed ship that sunders the purple sea.
My son, my son, will you break my heart to have your jest with me?—
Father, I'm having no jest with you, but I'm earnest to go away;
There's something that's gripping the soul of me that will not bide delay;
I have dreamed and dreamed for nights of seas that break in alien foam
And of magic cities that climb and climb with dome on golden dome
And I'd rather be a beggar that crawls along some strange, far street
Than living here where I rise each day to sit in the selfsame seat,
To look in the face that is always the same at the stale, familiar board,
What though the granaries burst with corn and the wine-jar brims to be poured!
My lad, I see that you won't be moved, so here is your father's hand,
And whenever you tire of ships and ports and yearn for the good home-land,
Wearied to death of the waves that toss forever and ever about,
Come home, so ragged the dogs forget,—and you'll find the latchstring out!
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