Hear the singing on the boats,
As they halt beside the pier!
Ah, those fresh Italian throats,
How they cheer!
Yet the words they sing so loud
Bring depression to my heart,
As I watch the youthful crowd
Thus depart.

“We are going o'er the sea!
Loyal sons of Italy,
We are bound for Tripoli,

See that lad of twenty years,-
Who is stretching out his hand
Toward his mother there in tears
On the strand!
Should he perish in the strife
Under Afric's burning sky,
There were nothing left in life-
She must die.

Yet he's going o'er the sea!
At the call of Italy,
He is bound for Tripoli,

Now the plank is pulled to land,
And the last farewell is o'er,
As the steamer, at command,
Leaves the shore;
There are shouts and ringing cheers,
For the boys are brave and strong,
Yet one feels that there are tears
In their song:

“We are going o'er the sea!
Loyal sons of Italy,
We are bound for Tripoli,

Ah, that mother who is left!
She is weeping now alone,
Like a Niobe bereft
Of her own;
And at length I dare to speak
To the woman seated there,
With the tears upon her cheek,
In despair.

He has gone across the sea!
Who so dutiful as he?
He is bound for Tripoli,

“Nay, good mother, do not weep!
Since the summons comes from Rome,
Can we really wish to keep
Sons at home?”
“And why not?” she made reply;
“We have no invading foe;
I would send my son to die,
Were it so.”

But he's gone across the sea!
Gone with thousands such as he!
He is bound for Tripoli,

“What is Africa to me,
If it swallow up my child?
What care I for Tripoli,
Spot defiled!
Did not Abyssinian sand
Drink sufficiently our gore?
Must we stain that fatal strand,
As before?”

Yet he's gone across the sea,
Who more valorous than he?
He is bound for Tripoli,

“Have we no great uses here
For the millions we outpour?
Are our consciences quite clear
In this war?
Are there no more roads to build,
Schools to found, and farms to work.
That we let our boys be killed
By the Turk?”

Yet we send them o'er the sea!
Youthful sons of Italy,
They are bound for Tripoli,

“We are hungry, yet behold,
How the price of food goes higher!
And the nights will soon be cold
Without fire!
Who will earn for me my bread?
Who my little home will save,
When he lies there cold and dead
In his grave?”

But he's gone across the sea!
Who so good and kind to me?
He is bound for Tripoli,

To the churchyard, near the bay,
Went the mother in her grief,
For her soul was moved to pray
For relief;
And deep sobs convulsed her breast,
As she knelt upon the sod,
Where her husband lay at rest,
Safe in God.

For the boy was o'er the sea,
Whom she rocked upon her knee;
He had gone to Tripoli,

She was buried yesterday
With her husband, side by side;
Ere two months had passed away
She had died!
For one morning she had read
Of her son among the slain,
And they saw her old gray head
Sink in pain.

Nevermore across the sea
Will he come to Italy!
He was killed in Tripoli,

There was nothing more to tell
Of a lad so little known;
He was reckoned “one who fell,”
That alone.
Was he wounded? Did he lie
Long ill-treated by the foe?
And not know!

Yes, he lies beyond the sea!
(Can it be that that is he?)
In the sands of Tripoli,

She had asked for nothing more,
But in silence slowly failed,
Dreaming ever of the shore,
Whence he sailed.
Till her face, so wan and white,
Flushed at last with sweet surprise,
And a strangely tender light
Filled her eyes.

Then for her was “no more sea”!
She had found the soul set free
From the sands of Tripoli,