Isle of Hope, Isle of Tears

On the first day of January 1892
They opened Ellis Island and they let the people through
And the first to cross the threshold of that isle of hope and tears
Was Annie Moore from Ireland who was all of 15 years

Isle of hope, isle of tears
Isle of freedom, isle of fears
But it’s not the isle you left behind
That isle of hunger, isle of pain
Isle you’ll never see again
But the isle of home is always on your mind

In a little bag, she carried all her past and history
And her dreams for the future in the land of liberty
And courage is the passport when your old world disappears
But there’s no future in the past when you’re 15 years

Isle of hope, isle of tears
Isle of freedom, isle of fears
But it’s not the isle you left behind
That isle of hunger, isle of pain
Isle you’ll never see again
But the isle of home is always on your mind

When they closed down Ellis Island in 1943
17 million people had come there for sanctuary
And in springtime when I came here and I stepped onto its piers
I thought of how it must have been when you’re 15 years

Isle of hope, isle of tears
Isle of freedom, isle of fears
But it’s not the isle you left behind
That isle of hunger, isle of pain
Isle you’ll never see again
But the isle of home is always on your mind
But the isle of home is always on your mind

©Brendan Graham

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