Rise and Fall

Dey read em again an’ again, 
  An’ laugh an’ cry at ’em in turn; 
I felt I was gettin’ quite vain, 
   But dere was a lesson fe learn. 

My poverty quickly took wing, 
  Of life no experience had I; 
I couldn’ then want anyt’ing
  Dat kindness or money could buy. 

Dey tek me away from me lan’, 
  De gay o’ de wul’ to behold, 
An’ roam me t’rough palaces gran’, 
  An’ show’red on me honour untold. 

I went to de ballroom at night, 
  An’ danced wid de belles of de hour; 
Half dazed by de glitterin’ light, 
   I lounged in de palm-covered bower. 

I flirted wid beautiful girls, 
  An’ drank o’ de wine flowin’ red; 
I felt my brain movin’ in whirls, 
  An’ knew I was losin’ my head. 

But soon I was tired of it all, 
  My spirit was weary to roam; 
De life grew as bitter as gall, 
   I hungered again for my home. 

Te-day I am back in my lan’, 
  Forgotten by all de gay throng, 
A poorer but far wiser man, 
  An’ knowin’ de right from de wrong. 

From Songs of Jamaica (Aston W. Gardner & Co., 1912) by Claude McKay. This poem is in the public domain.