The Song of the Exiles





That long white Barrack by the Sea
Stares blankly seaward still,
But other grimy paws make free
With pignuts on 'The Hill'.

Fresh faces in the Gym appear,
New knives cut other names;
Fresh sinners carry on, I fear,
Our very same old games.

Terms come and go, scenes shift and fade,
The young moustache progresses;
In place of call-over, 'parade',
Instead of dinner, 'messes'.

By some mysterious law of fate
I cannot understand,
Most College fledgelings gravitate
To 'India's coral strand'.

In steamy mists of moist Bombay,
Or dreary Dum-Dum 'lines'.
Or where Karachi dust-storms play,
An O.U.S.C. pines.

Some watch the tender tea-plant grow
In gardens of Cachar;
Some wait at Quetta for the slow
Sure-coming Frontier war.

By Naga Hills our feet are set,
Or swamps of North Bengal;
Some spend their leave in far Tibet,
Some get no leave at all.

Some lead the R.A. guns afield
(At least upon parade),
Some watch lest kutcha dams may yield
To rifts the rains have made

. Some write voluminous reports
On 'forest land increase',
Some work at survey in the Ghats,
And some in the Police.

Some prance beside their gorah-log
On bony beasts and strange,
Some test, at Murree or Jutogh,
The flashing signal's range.

A scattered brotherhood, in truth,
By mount, and stream, and sea,
We chase, with all the zeal of youth,
Her Majesty's Rupee.

Exiles are we—yet, through our dreams
Old scenes and faces glide,
So that the city's murmur seems
The voice of Northam tide.