RAFTING DOWN THE RIO

RAFTING DOWN THE RIO

Come sit beside the fire, old friend,

And dream that bamboo stems

Have risen up around us

‘Mid flowers that shine like gems.

And we are back in fairyland,

And thro’ the golden haze

We’re rafting down the Rio –

In the old Jamaica days.

Oh! the old Jamaica days!

Faintly through that leafy maze

Comes the croon of Creole melodies

As down the stream one strays;

In those darkened water ways,

And we’re rafting down the Rio –

In the old Jamaica days.

In those mighty mountain ranges

What memories lie hid,

Through the stricken streets of Kingston

Stalks the ghost of Captain Kidd.

While phantom Henry Morgan

Sets Port Royal in a blaze,

As we’re rafting down the Rio –

In the old Jamaica days.

Oh! the old Jamaica days!

How we used to lie and laze,

And think of people working

As a curious kind of craze;

Wear and tear of brain and muscle

How we wondered if it pays,

As we rafted down the Rio –

In the old Jamaica days.

There’s a terror in the tree tops, and where the shadows brood,

For the wild cat and the scorpion

And the snakes are seeking food.

The alligators blink at us,

From fever-haunted bays,

And the woods knew Devil worship –

In those old Jamaica days.

Oh! the Jamaica days!

When the sun’s mid-winter rays

Have failed to pierce the fogs that fill

Our murky alley ways.

We’ll beside the fire, old friend,

And as the embers blaze,

Go rafting down the Rio –

In the old Jamaica days.

French, Percy. (1980) ‘Prose, Poems & Parodies.’  Dublin, Helicon Limited