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<h1>A Shropshire Lad</h1>
<h2>by A.E. Housman (1896)</h2>
From Clee to heaven the beacon burns,<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;The shires have seen it plain,<br/>
From north and south the sign returns<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;And beacons burn again.<br/>
Look left, look right, the hills are bright,<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;The dales are light between,<br/>
Because 'tis fifty years to-night<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;That God has saved the Queen.<br/>
Now, when the flame they watch not towers<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;About the soil they trod,<br/>
Lads, we'll remember friends of ours<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;Who shared the work with God.<br/>
To skies that knit their heartstrings right,<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;To fields that bred them brave,<br/>
The saviours come not home to-night:<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;Themselves they could not save.<br/>
It dawns in Asia, tombstones show<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;And Shropshire names are read;<br/>
And the Nile spills his overflow<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;Beside the Severn's dead.<br/>
We pledge in peace by farm and town<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;The Queen they served in war,<br/>
And fire the beacons up and down<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;The land they perished for.<br/>
"God save the Queen" we living sing,<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;From height to height 'tis heard;<br/>
And with the rest your voices ring,<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;Lads of the Fifty-third.<br/>
Oh, God will save her, fear you not:<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;Be you the men you've been,<br/>
Get you the sons your fathers got,<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;And God will save the Queen.<br/>
Loveliest of trees, the cherry now<br/>
Is hung with bloom along the bough,<br/>
And stands about the woodland ride<br/>
Wearing white for Eastertide.<br/>
Now, of my threescore years and ten,<br/>
Twenty will not come again,<br/>
And take from seventy springs a score,<br/>
It only leaves me fifty more.<br/>
And since to look at things in bloom<br/>
Fifty springs are little room,<br/>
About the woodlands I will go<br/>
To see the cherry hung with snow.<br/>
<h4>THE RECRUIT</h4>
Leave your home behind, lad,<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;And reach your friends your hand,<br/>
And go, and luck go with you<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;While Ludlow tower shall stand.<br/>
Oh, come you home of Sunday<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;When Ludlow streets are still<br/>
And Ludlow bells are calling<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;To farm and lane and mill,<br/>
Or come you home of Monday<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;When Ludlow market hums<br/>
And Ludlow chimes are playing<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;"The conquering hero comes,"<br/>
Come you home a hero,<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;Or come not home at all,<br/>
The lads you leave will mind you<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;Till Ludlow tower shall fall.<br/>
And you will list the bugle<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;That blows in lands of morn,<br/>
And make the foes of England<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;Be sorry you were born.<br/>
And you till trump of doomsday<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;On lands of morn may lie,<br/>
And make the hearts of comrades<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;Be heavy where you die.<br/>
Leave your home behind you,<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;Your friends by field and town:<br/>
Oh, town and field will mind you<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;Till Ludlow tower is down.<br/>
<h4>REVEILLE </h4>
Wake: the silver dusk returning<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;Up the beach of darkness brims,<br/>
And the ship of sunrise burning<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;Strands upon the eastern rims.<br/>
Wake: the vaulted shadow shatters,<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;Trampled to the floor it spanned,<br/>
And the tent of night in tatters<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;Straws the sky-pavilioned land.<br/>
Up, lad, up, 'tis late for lying:<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;Hear the drums of morning play;<br/>
Hark, the empty highways crying<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;"Who'll beyond the hills away?"<br/>
Towns and countries woo together,<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;Forelands beacon, belfries call;<br/>
Never lad that trod on leather<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;Lived to feast his heart with all.<br/>
Up, lad: thews that lie and cumber<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;Sunlit pallets never thrive;<br/>
Morns abed and daylight slumber<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;Were not meant for man alive.<br/>
Clay lies still, but blood's a rover;<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;Breath's a ware that will not keep.<br/>
Up, lad: when the journey's over<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;There'll be time enough to sleep.<br/>
Oh see how thick the goldcup flowers<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;Are lying in field and lane,<br/>
With dandelions to tell the hours<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;That never are told again.<br/>
Oh may I squire you round the meads<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;And pick you posies gay?<br/>
&#151;'Twill do no harm to take my arm.<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;"You may, young man, you may."<br/>
Ah, spring was sent for lass and lad,<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;'Tis now the blood runs gold,<br/>
And man and maid had best be glad<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;Before the world is old.<br/>
What flowers to-day may flower to-morrow,<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;But never as good as new.<br/>
&#151;Suppose I wound my arm right round&#151;<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;"'Tis true, young man, 'tis true."<br/>
Some lads there are, 'tis shame to say,<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;That only court to thieve,<br/>
And once they bear the bloom away<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;'Tis little enough they leave.<br/>
Then keep your heart for men like me<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;And safe from trustless chaps.<br/>
My love is true and all for you.<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;"Perhaps, young man, perhaps."<br/>
Oh, look in my eyes then, can you doubt?<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp; &#151; Why, 'tis a mile from town.<br/>
How green the grass is all about!<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;We might as well sit down.<br/>
&#151;Ah, life, what is it but a flower?<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;Why must true lovers sigh?<br/>
Be kind, have pity, my own, my pretty,&#151;<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;"Good-bye, young man, good-bye."<br/>
When the lad for longing sighs,<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;Mute and dull of cheer and pale,<br/>
If at death's own door he lies,<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;Maiden, you can heal his ail.<br/>
Lovers' ills are all to buy:<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;The wan look, the hollow tone,<br/>
The hung head, the sunken eye,<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;You can have them for your own.<br/>
Buy them, buy them: eve and morn<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;Lovers' ills are all to sell.<br/>
Then you can lie down forlorn;<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;But the lover will be well.<br/>
When smoke stood up from Ludlow,<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;And mist blew off from Teme,<br/>
And blithe afield to ploughing<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;Against the morning beam<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;I strode beside my team,<br/>
The blackbird in the coppice<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;Looked out to see me stride,<br/>
And hearkened as I whistled<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;The trampling team beside,<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;And fluted and replied:<br/>
"Lie down, lie down, young yeoman;<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;What use to rise and rise?<br/>
Rise man a thousand mornings<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;Yet down at last he lies,<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;And then the man is wise."<br/>
I heard the tune he sang me,<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;And spied his yellow bill;<br/>
I picked a stone and aimed it<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;And threw it with a will:<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;Then the bird was still.<br/>
Then my soul within me<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;Took up the blackbird's strain,<br/>
And still beside the horses<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;Along the dewy lane<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;It sang the song again:<br/>
"Lie down, lie down, young yeoman;<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;The sun moves always west;<br/>
The road one treads to labour<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;Will lead one home to rest,<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;And that will be the best."<br/>
"Farewell to barn and stack and tree,<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;Farewell to Severn shore.<br/>
Terence, look your last at me,<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;For I come home no more.<br/>
"The sun burns on the half-mown hill,<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;By now the blood is dried;<br/>
And Maurice amongst the hay lies still<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;And my knife is in his side.<br/>
"My mother thinks us long away;<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;'Tis time the field were mown.<br/>
She had two sons at rising day,<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;To-night she'll be alone.<br/>
"And here's a bloody hand to shake,<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;And oh, man, here's good-bye;<br/>
We'll sweat no more on scythe and rake,<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;My bloody hands and I.<br/>
"I wish you strength to bring you pride,<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;And a love to keep you clean,<br/>
And I wish you luck, come Lammastide,<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;At racing on the green.<br/>
"Long for me the rick will wait,<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;And long will wait the fold,<br/>
And long will stand the empty plate,<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;And dinner will be cold."<br/>
On moonlit heath and lonesome bank<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;The sheep beside me graze;<br/>
And yon the gallows used to clank<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;Fast by the four cross ways.<br/>
A careless shepherd once would keep<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;The flocks by moonlight there,[1]<br/>
And high amongst the glimmering sheep<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;The dead man stood on air.<br/>
They hang us now in Shrewsbury jail:<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;The whistles blow forlorn,<br/>
And trains all night groan on the rail<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;To men that die at morn.<br/>
There sleeps in Shrewsbury jail to-night,<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;Or wakes, as may betide,<br/>
A better lad, if things went right,<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;Than most that sleep outside.<br/>
And naked to the hangman's noose<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;The morning clocks will ring<br/>
A neck God made for other use<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;Than strangling in a string.<br/>
And sharp the link of life will snap,<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;And dead on air will stand<br/>
Heels that held up as straight a chap<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;As treads upon the land.<br/>
So here I'll watch the night and wait<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;To see the morning shine,<br/>
When he will hear the stroke of eight<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;And not the stroke of nine;<br/>
And wish my friend as sound a sleep<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;As lads' I did not know,<br/>
That shepherded the moonlit sheep<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;A hundred years ago.<br/>
The Sun at noon to higher air,<br/>
Unharnessing the silver Pair<br/>
That late before his chariot swam,<br/>
Rides on the gold wool of the Ram.
So braver notes the storm-cock sings<br/>
To start the rusted wheel of things,<br/>
And brutes in field and brutes in pen<br/>
Leap that the world goes round again.<br/>
The boys are up the woods with day<br/>
To fetch the daffodils away,<br/>
And home at noonday from the hills<br/>
They bring no dearth of daffodils.<br/>
Afield for palms the girls repair,<br/>
And sure enough the palms are there,<br/>
And each will find by hedge or pond<br/>
Her waving silver-tufted wand.<br/>
In farm and field through all the shire<br/>
The eye beholds the heart's desire;<br/>
Ah, let not only mine be vain,<br/>
For lovers should be loved again.<br/>
On your midnight pallet lying,<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;Listen, and undo the door:<br/>
Lads that waste the light in sighing<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;In the dark should sigh no more;<br/>
Night should ease a lover's sorrow;<br/>
Therefore, since I go to-morrow,<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;Pity me before.<br/>
In the land to which I travel,<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;The far dwelling, let me say&#151;<br/>
Once, if here the couch is gravel,<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;In a kinder bed I lay,<br/>
And the breast the darnel smothers<br/>
Rested once upon another's<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;When it was not clay.<br/>
When I watch the living meet,<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;And the moving pageant file<br/>
Warm and breathing through the street<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;Where I lodge a little while,<br/>
If the heats of hate and lust<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;In the house of flesh are strong,<br/>
Let me mind the house of dust<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;Where my sojourn shall be long.<br/>
In the nation that is not<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;Nothing stands that stood before;<br/>
There revenges are forgot,<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;And the hater hates no more;<br/>
Lovers lying two and two<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;Ask not whom they sleep beside,<br/>
And the bridegroom all night through<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;Never turns him to the bride.<br/>
When I was one-and-twenty<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;I heard a wise man say,<br/>
"Give crowns and pounds and guineas<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;But not your heart away;<br/>
Give pearls away and rubies<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;But keep your fancy free."<br/>
But I was one-and-twenty,<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;No use to talk to me.<br/>
When I was one-and-twenty<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;I heard him say again,<br/>
"The heart out of the bosom<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;Was never given in vain;<br/>
'Tis paid with sighs a plenty<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;And sold for endless rue."<br/>
And I am two-and-twenty<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;And oh, 'tis true, 'tis true.<br/>
There pass the careless people<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;That call their souls their own:<br/>
Here by the road I loiter,<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;How idle and alone.<br/>
Ah, past the plunge of plummet,<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;In seas I cannot sound,<br/>
My heart and soul and senses,<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;World without end, are drowned.<br/>
His folly has not fellow<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;Beneath the blue of day<br/>
That gives to man or woman<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;His heart and soul away.<br/>
There flowers no balm to sain him<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;From east of earth to west<br/>
That's lost for everlasting<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;The heart out of his breast.<br/>
Here by the labouring highway<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;With empty hands I stroll:<br/>
Sea-deep, till doomsday morning,<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;Lie lost my heart and soul.<br/>
Look not in my eyes, for fear<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;They mirror true the sight I see,<br/>
And there you find your face too clear<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;And love it and be lost like me.<br/>
One the long nights through must lie<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;Spent in star-defeated sighs,<br/>
But why should you as well as I<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;Perish? gaze not in my eyes.<br/>
A Grecian lad, as I hear tell,<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;One that many loved in vain,<br/>
Looked into a forest well<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;And never looked away again.<br/>
There, when the turf in springtime flowers,<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;With downward eye and gazes sad,<br/>
Stands amid the glancing showers<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;A jonquil, not a Grecian lad.<br/>
It nods and curtseys and recovers<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;When the wind blows above,<br/>
The nettle on the graves of lovers<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;That hanged themselves for love.<br/>
The nettle nods, the wind blows over,<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;The man, he does not move,<br/>
The lover of the grave, the lover<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;That hanged himself for love.<br/>
Twice a week the winter thorough<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;Here stood I to keep the goal:<br/>
Football then was fighting sorrow<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;For the young man's soul.<br/>
Now in Maytime to the wicket<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;Out I march with bat and pad:<br/>
See the son of grief at cricket <br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;Trying to be glad.<br/>
Try I will; no harm in trying:<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;Wonder 'tis how little mirth<br/>
Keeps the bones of man from lying<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;On the bed of earth.<br/>
Oh, when I was in love with you<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;Then I was clean and brave,<br/>
And miles around the wonder grew<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;How well did I behave.<br/>
And now the fancy passes by<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;And nothing will remain,<br/>
And miles around they'll say that I<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;Am quite myself again.<br/>
The time you won your town the race<br/>
We chaired you through the market-place;<br/>
Man and boy stood cheering by,<br/>
And home we brought you shoulder-high.<br/>
To-day, the road all runners come,<br/>
Shoulder-high we bring you home,<br/>
And set you at your threshold down,<br/>
Townsman of a stiller town.<br/>
Smart lad, to slip betimes away<br/>
From fields where glory does not stay,<br/>
And early though the laurel grows<br/>
It withers quicker than the rose.<br/>
Eyes the shady night has shut<br/>
Cannot see the record cut,<br/>
And silence sounds no worse than cheers<br/>
After earth has stopped the ears:<br/>
Now you will not swell the rout<br/>
Of lads that wore their honors out,<br/>
Runners whom reknown outran<br/>
And the name died before the man.<br/>
So set, before the echoes fade,<br/>
The fleet foot on the sill of shade,<br/>
And hold to the low lintel up<br/>
The still-defended challenge-cup.<br/>
And round that early-laurelled head<br/>
Will flock to gaze the strengthless dead,<br/>
And find unwithered on its curls<br/>
The garland briefer than a girl's.<br/>
Oh fair enough are sky and plain,<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;But I know fairer far:<br/>
Those are as beautiful again<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;That in the water are;<br/>
The pools and rivers wash so clean<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;The trees and clouds and air,<br/>
The like on earth has never seen,<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;And oh that I were there.<br/>
These are the thoughts I often think<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;As I stand gazing down<br/>
In act upon the cressy brink<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;To strip and dive and drown;<br/>
But in the golden-sanded brooks<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;And azure meres I spy<br/>
A silly lad that longs and looks<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;And wishes he were I.<br/>
<h4>BREDON HILL</h4>
In summertime on Bredon<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;The bells they sound so clear;<br/>
Round both the shires the ring them<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;In steeples far and near,<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;A happy noise to hear.<br/>
Here of a Sunday morning<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;My love and I would lie,<br/>
And see the coloured counties,<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;And hear the larks so high<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;About us in the sky.<br/>
The bells would ring to call her<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;In valleys miles away:<br/>
"Come all to church, good people;<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;Good people, come and pray."<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;But here my love would stay.<br/>
And I would turn and answer<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;Among the springing thyme,<br/>
"Oh, peal upon our wedding,<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;And we will hear the chime,<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;And come to church in time."<br/>
But when the snows at Christmas<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;On Bredon top were strown,<br/>
My love rose up so early<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;And stole out unbeknown<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;And went to church alone.<br/>
They tolled the one bell only,<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;Groom there was none to see,<br/>
The mourners followed after,<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;And so to church went she,<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;And would not wait for me.<br/>
The bells they sound on Bredon<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;And still the steeples hum.<br/>
"Come all to church, good people,"-<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;Oh, noisy bells, be dumb;<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;I hear you, I will come.<br/>
The street sounds to the soldiers' tread,<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;And out we troop to see:<br/>
A single redcoat turns his head,<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;He turns and looks at me.<br/>
My man, from sky to sky's so far,<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;We never crossed before;<br/>
Such leagues apart the world's ends are,<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;We're like to meet no more;<br/>
What thoughts at heart have you and I<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;We cannot stop to tell;<br/>
But dead or living, drunk or dry,<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;Soldier, I wish you well.<br/>
The lads in their hundreds to Ludlow come in for the fair,<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;There's men from the barn and the forge and the mill and the fold,<br/>
The lads for the girls and the lads for the liquor are there,<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;And there with the rest are the lads that will never be old.<br/>
There's chaps from the town and the field and the till and the cart,<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;And many to count are the stalwart, and many the brave,<br/>
And many the handsome of face and the handsome of heart,<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;And few that will carry their looks or their truth to the grave.<br/>
I wish one could know them, I wish there were tokens to tell<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;The fortunate fellows that now you can never discern;<br/>
And then one could talk with them friendly and wish them farewell<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;And watch them depart on the way that they will not return.<br/>
But now you may stare as you like and there's nothing to scan;<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;And brushing your elbow unguessed-at and not to be told<br/>
They carry back bright to the coiner the mintage of man,<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;The lads that will die in their glory and never be old.<br/>
Say, lad, have you things to do?<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;Quick then, while your day's at prime.<br/>
Quick, and if 'tis work for two,<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;Here am I man: now's your time.<br/>
Send me now, and I shall go;<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;Call me, I shall hear you call;<br/>
Use me ere they lay me low<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;Where a man's no use at all;<br/>
Ere the wholesome flesh decay<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;And the willing nerve be numb,<br/>
And the lips lack breath to say,<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;"No, my lad, I cannot come."<br/>
This time of year a twelvemonth past,<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;When Fred and I would meet,<br/>
We needs must jangle, till at last<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;We fought and I was beat.<br/>
So then the summer fields about,<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;Till rainy days began,<br/>
Rose Harland on her Sundays out<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;Walked with the better man.<br/>
The better man she walks with still,<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;Though now 'tis not with Fred:<br/>
A lad that lives and has his will<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;Is worth a dozen dead.<br/>
Fred keeps the house all kinds of weather,<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;And clay's the house he keeps;<br/>
When Rose and I walk out together<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;Stock-still lies Fred and sleeps.<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;Along the field as we came by<br/>
A year ago, my love and I,<br/>
The aspen over stile and stone<br/>
Was talking to itself alone.<br/>
"Oh who are these that hiss and pass?<br/>
A country lover and his lass;<br/>
Two lovers looking to be wed;<br/>
And time shall put them both to bed,<br/>
But she shall lie with earth above,<br/>
And he beside another love."<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;And sure enough beneath the tree<br/>
There walks another love with me,<br/>
And overhead the aspen heaves<br/>
Its rainy-sounding silver leaves;<br/>
And I spell nothing in their stir,<br/>
But now perhaps they speak to her,<br/>
And plain for her to understand<br/>
They talk about a time at hand<br/>
When I shall sleep with clover clad,<br/>
And she beside another lad.<br/>
"Is my team ploughing,<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;That I was used to drive<br/>
And hear the harness jingle<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;When I was man alive?"<br/>
Ay, the horses trample,<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;The harness jingles now;<br/>
No change though you lie under<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;The land you used to plough.<br/>
"Is football playing<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;Along the river shore,<br/>
With lads to chase the leather,<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;Now I stand up no more?"<br/>
Ay, the ball is flying,<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;The lads play heart and soul;<br/>
The goal stands up, the keeper<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;Stands up to keep the goal.<br/>
"Is my girl happy,<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;That I thought hard to leave,<br/>
And has she tired of weeping<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;As she lies down at eve?"<br/>
Ay, she lies down lightly,<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;She lies not down to weep,<br/>
Your girl is well contented.<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;Be still, my lad, and sleep.<br/>
"Is my friend hearty,<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;Now I am thin and pine,<br/>
And has he found to sleep in<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;A better bed than mine?"<br/>
Yes, lad, I lie easy,<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;I lie as lads would choose;<br/>
I cheer a dead man's sweetheart,<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;Never ask me whose.<br/>
High the vanes of Shrewsbury gleam<br/>
Islanded in Severn stream;<br/>
The bridges from the steepled crest<br/>
Cross the water east and west.<br/>
The flag of morn in conqueror's state<br/>
Enters at the English gate:<br/>
The vanquished eve, as night prevails,<br/>
Bleeds upon the road to Wales.<br/>
Ages since the vanquished bled<br/>
Round my mother's marriage-bed;<br/>
There the ravens feasted far<br/>
About the open house of war:<br/>
When Severn down to Buildwas ran<br/>
Coloured with the death of man,<br/>
Couched upon her brother's grave<br/>
That Saxon got me on the slave.<br/>
The sound of fight is silent long<br/>
That began the ancient wrong;<br/>
Long the voice of tears is still<br/>
That wept of old the endless ill.<br/>
In my heart it has not died,<br/>
The war that sleeps on Severn side;<br/>
They cease not fighting, east and west,<br/>
On the marches of my breat.<br/>
Here the truceless armies yet<br/>
Trample, rolled in blood and sweat;<br/>
They kill and kill and never die;<br/>
And I think that each is I.<br/>
None will part us, none undo<br/>
The knot that makes one flesh of two,<br/>
Sick with hatred, sick with pain,<br/>
Strangling &#151; When shall we be slain?<br/>
When shall I be dead and rid<br/>
Of the wrong my father did?<br/>
How long, how long, till spade and hearse<br/>
Puts to sleep my mother's curse?<br/>
<h4>THE LENT LILY</h4>
'Tis spring; come out to ramble<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;The hilly brakes around,<br/>
For under thorn and bramble<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;About the hollow ground<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;The primroses are found.<br/>
And there's the windflower chilly<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;With all the winds at play,<br/>
And there's the Lenten lily<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;That has not long to stay<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;And dies on Easter day.<br/>
And since till girls go maying<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;You find the primrose still,<br/>
And find the windflower playing<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;With every wind at will,<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;But not the daffodil,<br/>
Bring baskets now, and sally<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;Upon the spring's array,<br/>
And bear from hill and valley<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;The daffodil away<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;That dies on Easter day.<br/>
Others, I am not the first,<br/>
Have willed more mischief than they durst:<br/>
If in the breathless night I too<br/>
Shiver now, 'tis nothing new.<br/>
More than I, if truth were told,<br/>
Have stood and sweated hot and cold,<br/>
And through their reins in ice and fire<br/>
Fear contended with desire.<br/>
Agued once like me were they,<br/>
But I like them shall win my way<br/>
Lastly to the bed of mould<br/>
Where there's neither heat nor cold.<br/>
But from my grave across my brow<br/>
Plays no wind of healing now,<br/>
And fire and ice within me fight<br/>
Beneath the suffocating night.<br/>
On Wenlock Edge the wood's in trouble;<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;His forest fleece the Wrekin heaves;<br/>
The gale, it plies the saplings double,<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;And thick on Severn snow the leaves.<br/>
'Twould blow like this through holt and hanger<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;When Uricon the city stood:<br/>
'Tis the old wind in the old anger,<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;But then it threshed another wood.<br/>
Then, 'twas before my time, the Roman<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;At yonder heaving hill would stare:<br/>
The blood that warms an English yeoman,<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;The thoughts that hurt him, they were there.<br/>
There, like the wind through woods in riot,<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;Through him the gale of life blew high;<br/>
The tree of man was never quiet:<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;Then 'twas the Roman, now 'tis I.<br/>
The gale, it plies the saplings double,<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;It blows so hard, 'twill soon be gone:<br/>
To-day the Roman and his trouble<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;Are ashes under Uricon.<br/>
From far, from eve and morning<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;And yon twelve-winded sky,<br/>
The stuff of life to knit me<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;Blew hither: here am I.<br/>
Now &#151; for a breath I tarry<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;Nor yet disperse apart&#151;<br/>
Take my hand quick and tell me,<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;What have you in your heart.<br/>
Speak now, and I will answer;<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;How shall I help you, say;<br/>
Ere to the wind's twelve quarters<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;I take my endless way.<br/>
If truth in hearts that perish<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;Could move the powers on high,<br/>
I think the love I bear you<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;Should make you not to die.<br/>
Sure, sure, if stedfast meaning,<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;If single thought could save,<br/>
The world might end to-morrow,<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;You should not see the grave.<br/>
This long and sure-set liking,<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;This boundless will to please,<br/>
&#151;Oh, you should live for ever,<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;If there were help in these.<br/>
But now, since all is idle,<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;To this lost heart be kind,<br/>
Ere to a town you journey<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;Where friends are ill to find.<br/>
<em>"'Oh, sick I am to see you, will you never let me be?</em><br/>
<em>You may be good for something, but you are not good for me.</em><br/>
<em>Oh, go where you are wanted, for you are not wanted here.'</em><br/>
And that was all the farewell when I parted from my dear.<br/>
"I will go where I am wanted, to a lady born and bred<br/>
Who will dress me free for nothing in a uniform of red;<br/>
She will not be sick to see me if I only keep it clean:<br/>
I will go where I am wanted for a soldier of the Queen.<br/>
"I will go where I am wanted, for the sergeant does not mind;<br/>
He may be sick to see me but he treats me very kind:<br/>
He gives me beer and breakfast and a ribbon for my cap,<br/>
And I never knew a sweetheart spend her money on a chap.<br/>
"I will go where I am wanted, where there's room for one or two,<br/>
And the men are none too many for the work there is to do;<br/>
Where the standing line wears thinner and the dropping dead lie thick;<br/>
And the enemies of England they shall see me and be sick."<br/>
On the idle hill of summer,<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;Sleepy with the flow of streams,<br/>
Far I hear the steady drummer<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;Drumming like a noise in dreams.<br/>
Far and near and low and louder<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;On the roads of earth go by,<br/>
Dear to friends and food for powder,<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;Soldiers marching, all to die.<br/>
East and west on fields forgotten<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;Bleach the bones of comrades slain,<br/>
Lovely lads and dead and rotten;<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;None that go return again.<br/>
Far the calling bugles hollo,<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;High the screaming fife replies,<br/>
Gay the files of scarlet follow:<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;Woman bore me, I will rise.<br/>
White in the moon the long road lies,<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;The moon stands blank above;<br/>
White in the moon the long road lies<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;That leads me from my love.<br/>
Still hangs the hedge without a gust,<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;Still, still the shadows stay:<br/>
My feet upon the moonlit dust<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;Pursue the ceaseless way.<br/>
The world is round, so travellers tell,<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;And straight though reach the track,<br/>
Trudge on, trudge on, 'twill all be well,<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;The way will guide one back.<br/>
But ere the circle homeward hies<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;Far, far must it remove:<br/>
White in the moon the long road lies<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;That leads me from my love.<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;As through the wild green hills of Wyre<br/>
The train ran, changing sky and shire,<br/>
And far behind, a fading crest,<br/>
Low in the forsaken west<br/>
Sank the high-reared head of Clee,<br/>
My hand lay empty on my knee.<br/>
Aching on my knee it lay:<br/>
That morning half a shire away<br/>
So many an honest fellow's fist<br/>
Had well-nigh wrung it from the wrist.<br/>
Hand, said I, since now we part<br/>
From fields and men we know by heart,<br/>
For strangers' faces, strangers' lands,&#151;<br/>
Hand, you have held true fellows' hands.<br/>
Be clean then; rot before you do<br/>
A thing they'll not believe of you.<br/>
You and I must keep from shame<br/>
In London streets the Shropshire name;<br/>
On banks of Thames they must not say<br/>
Severn breeds worse men than they;<br/>
And friends abroad must bear in mind<br/>
Friends at home they leave behind.<br/>
Oh, I shall be stiff and cold<br/>
When I forget you, hearts of gold;<br/>
The land where I shall mind you not<br/>
Is the land where all's forgot.<br/>
And if my foot returns no more<br/>
To Teme nor Corve nor Severn shore,<br/>
Luck, my lads, be with you still<br/>
By falling stream and standing hill,<br/>
By chiming tower and whispering tree,<br/>
Men that made a man of me.<br/>
About your work in town and farm<br/>
Still you'll keep my head from harm,<br/>
Still you'll help me, hands that gave<br/>
A grasp to friend me to the grave.<br/>
The winds out of the west land blow,<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;My friends have breathed them there;<br/>
Warm with the blood of lads I know<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;Comes east the sighing air.<br/>
It fanned their temples, filled their lungs,<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;Scattered their forelocks free;<br/>
My friends made words of it with tongues<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;That talk no more to me.<br/>
Their voices, dying as they fly,<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;Thick on the wind are sown;<br/>
The names of men blow soundless by,<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;My fellows' and my own.<br/>
Oh lads, at home I heard you plain,<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;But here your speech is still,<br/>
And down the sighing wind in vain<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;You hollo from the hill.<br/>
The wind and I, we both were there,<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;But neither long abode;<br/>
Now through the friendless world we fare<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;And sigh upon the road.<br/>
'Tis time, I think, by Wenlock town<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;The golden broom should blow;<br/>
The hawthorn sprinkled up and down<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;Should charge the land with snow.<br/>
Spring will not wait the loiterer's time<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;Who keeps so long away;<br/>
So others wear the broom and climb<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;The hedgerows heaped with may.<br/>
Oh tarnish late on Wenlock Edge,<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;Gold that I never see;<br/>
Lie long, high snowdrifts in the hedge<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;That will not shower on me.<br/>
Into my heart an air that kills<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;From yon far country blows:<br/>
What are those blue remembered hills,<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;What spires, what farms are those?<br/>
That is the land of lost content,<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;I see it shining plain,<br/>
The happy highways where I went<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;And cannot come again.<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;In my own shire, if I was sad,<br/>
Homely comforters I had:<br/>
The earth, because my heart was sore,<br/>
Sorrowed for the son she bore;<br/>
And standing hills, long to remain,<br/>
Shared their short-lived comrade's pain.<br/>
And bound for the same bourn as I,<br/>
On every road I wandered by,<br/>
Trod beside me, close and dear,<br/>
The beautiful and death-struck year:<br/>
Whether in the woodland brown<br/>
I heard the beechnut rustle down,<br/>
And saw the purple crocus pale<br/>
Flower about the autumn dale;<br/>
Or littering far the fields of May<br/>
Lady-smocks a-bleaching lay,<br/>
And like a skylit water stood<br/>
The bluebells in the azured wood.<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;Yonder, lightening other loads,<br/>
The seasons range the country roads,<br/>
But here in London streets I ken<br/>
No such helpmates, only men;<br/>
And these are not in plight to bear,<br/>
If they would, another's care.<br/>
They have enough as 'tis: I see<br/>
In many an eye that measures me<br/>
The mortal sickness of a mind<br/>
Too unhappy to be kind.<br/>
Undone with misery, all they can<br/>
Is to hate their fellow man;<br/>
And till they drop they needs must still<br/>
Look at you and wish you ill.<br/>
Once in the wind of morning<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;I ranged the thymy wold;<br/>
The world-wide air was azure<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;And all the brooks ran gold.<br/>
There through the dews beside me<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;Behold a youth that trod,<br/>
With feathered cap on forehead,<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;And poised a golden rod.<br/>
With mien to match the morning<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;And gay delightful guise<br/>
And friendly brows and laughter<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;He looked me in the eyes.<br/>
Oh whence, I asked, and whither?<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;He smiled and would not say.<br/>
And looked at me and beckoned,<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;And laughed and led the way.<br/>
And with kind looks and laughter<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;And nought to say beside,<br/>
We two went on together,<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;I and my happy guide.<br/>
Across the glittering pastures<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;And empty upland still<br/>
And solitude of shepherds<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;High in the folded hill,<br/>
By hanging woods and hamlets<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;That gaze through orchards down<br/>
On many a windmill turning<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;And far-discovered town,<br/>
With gay regards of promise<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;And sure unslackened stride<br/>
And smiles and nothing spoken<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;Led on my merry guide.<br/>
By blowing realms of woodland<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;With sunstruck vanes afield<br/>
And cloud-led shadows sailing<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;About the windy weald,<br/>
By valley-guarded granges<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;And silver waters wide,<br/>
Content at heart I followed<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;With my delightful guide.<br/>
And like the cloudy shadows<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;Across the country blown<br/>
We two fare on for ever,<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;But not we two alone.<br/>
With the great gale we journey<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;That breathes from gardens thinned,<br/>
Borne in the drift of blossoms<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;Whose petals throng the wind;<br/>
Buoyed on the heaven-ward whisper<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;Of dancing leaflets whirled<br/>
From all the woods that autumn<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;Bereaves in all the world.<br/>
And midst the fluttering legion<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;Of all that ever died<br/>
I follow, and before us<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;Goes the delightful guide,<br/>
With lips that brim with laughter<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;But never once respond,<br/>
And feet that fly on feathers,<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;And serpent-circled wand.<br/>
When I meet the morning beam,<br/>
Or lay me down at night to dream,<br/>
I hear my bones within me say,<br/>
"Another night, another day.<br/>
"When shall this slough of sense be cast,<br/>
This dust of thoughts be laid at last,<br/>
The man of flesh and soul be slain<br/>
And the man of bone remain?<br/>
"This tongue that talks, these lungs that shout,<br/>
These thews that hustle us about,<br/>
This brain that fills the skull with schemes,<br/>
And its humming hive of dreams,&#151;<br/>
"These to-day are proud in power<br/>
And lord it in their little hour:<br/>
The immortal bones obey control<br/>
Of dying flesh and dying soul.<br/>
"'Tis long till eve and morn are gone:<br/>
Slow the endless night comes on,<br/>
And late to fulness grows the birth<br/>
That shall last as long as earth.<br/>
"Wanderers eastward, wanderers west,<br/>
Know you why you cannot rest?<br/>
'Tis that every mother's son<br/>
Travails with a skeleton.<br/>
"Lie down in the bed of dust;<br/>
Bear the fruit that bear you must;<br/>
Bring the eternal seed to light,<br/>
And morn is all the same as night.<br/>
"Rest you so from trouble sore,<br/>
Fear the heat o' the sun no more,<br/>
Nor the snowing winter wild,<br/>
Now you labour not with child.<br/>
"Empty vessel, garment cast,<br/>
We that wore you long shall last.<br/>
&#151;Another night, another day."<br/>
So my bones within me say.<br/>
Therefore they shall do my will<br/>
To-day while I am master still,<br/>
And flesh and soul, now both are strong,<br/>
Shall hale the sullen slaves along,<br/>
Before this fire of sense decay,<br/>
This smoke of thought blow clean away,<br/>
And leave with ancient night alone<br/>
The stedfast and enduring bone.<br/>
Shot? so quick, so clean an ending?<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;Oh that was right, lad, that was brave:<br/>
Yours was not an ill for mending,<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;'Twas best to take it to the grave.<br/>
Oh you had forethought, you could reason,<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;And saw your road and where it led,<br/>
And early wise and brave in season<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;Put the pistol to your head.<br/>
Oh soon, and better so than later<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;After long disgrace and scorn,<br/>
You shot dead the household traitor,<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;The soul that should not have been born.<br/>
Right you guessed the rising morrow<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;And scorned to tread the mire you must:<br/>
Dust's your wages, son of sorrow,<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;But men may come to worse than dust.<br/>
Souls undone, undoing others,&#151;<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;Long time since the tale began.<br/>
You would not live to wrong your brothers:<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;Oh lad, you died as fits a man.<br/>
Now to your grave shall friend and stranger<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;With ruth and some with envy come:<br/>
Undishonoured, clear of danger,<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;Clean of guilt, pass hence and home.<br/>
Turn safe to rest, no dreams, no waking;<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;And here, man, here's the wreath I've made:<br/>
'Tis not a gift that's worth the taking,<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;But wear it and it will not fade.<br/>
If by chance your eye offend you,<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;Pluck it out, lad, and be sound:<br/>
'Twill hurt, but here are salves to friend you,<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;And many a balsam grows on ground.<br/>
And if your hand or foot offend you,<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;Cut it off, lad, and be whole;<br/>
But play the man, stand up and end you,<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;When your sickness is your soul.<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;Bring, in this timeless grave to throw,<br/>
No cypress, sombre on the snow;<br/>
Snap not from the bitter yew<br/>
His leaves that live December through;<br/>
Break no rosemary, bright with rime<br/>
And sparkling to the cruel clime;<br/>
Nor plod the winter land to look<br/>
For willows in the icy brook<br/>
To cast them leafless round him: bring<br/>
No spray that ever buds in spring.<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;But if the Christmas field has kept<br/>
Awns the last gleaner overstept,<br/>
Or shrivelled flax, whose flower is blue<br/>
A single season, never two;<br/>
Or if one haulm whose year is o'er<br/>
Shivers on the upland frore,<br/>
&#151;Oh, bring from hill and stream and plain<br/>
Whatever will not flower again,<br/>
To give him comfort: he and those<br/>
Shall bide eternal bedfellows<br/>
Where low upon the couch he lies<br/>
Whence he never shall arise.<br/>
"Here the hangman stops his cart:<br/>
Now the best of friends must part.<br/>
Fare you well, for ill fare I:<br/>
Live, lads, and I will die.<br/>
"Oh, at home had I but stayed<br/>
'Prenticed to my father's trade,<br/>
Had I stuck to plane and adze,<br/>
I had not been lost, my lads.<br/>
"Then I might have built perhaps<br/>
Gallows-trees for other chaps,<br/>
Never dangled on my own,<br/>
Had I left but ill alone.<br/>
"Now, you see, they hang me high,<br/>
And the people passing by<br/>
Stop to shake their fists and curse;<br/>
So 'tis come from ill to worse.<br/>
"Here hang I, and right and left<br/>
Two poor fellows hang for theft:<br/>
All the same's the luck we prove,<br/>
Though the midmost hangs for love.<br/>
"Comrades all, that stand and gaze,<br/>
Walk henceforth in other ways;<br/>
See my neck and save your own:<br/>
Comrades all, leave ill alone.<br/>
"Make some day a decent end,<br/>
Shrewder fellows than your friend.<br/>
Fare you well, for ill fare I:<br/>
Live lads, and I will die."<br/>
Be still, my soul, be still; the arms you bear are brittle,<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;Earth and high heaven are fixt of old and founded strong.<br/>
Think rather, &#151; call to thought, if now you grieve a little,<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;The days when we had rest, O soul, for they were long.<br/>
Men loved unkindness then, but lightless in the quarry<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;I slept and saw not; tears fell down, I did not mourn;<br/>
Sweat ran and blood sprang out and I was never sorry:<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;Then it was well with me, in days ere I was born.<br/>
Now, and I muse for why and never find the reason,<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;I pace the earth, and drink the air, and feel the sun.<br/>
Be still, be still, my soul; it is but for a season:<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;Let us endure an hour and see injustice done.<br/>
Ay, look: high heaven and earth ail from the prime foundation;<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;All thoughts to rive the heart are here, and all are vain:<br/>
Horror and scorn and hate and fear and indignation&#151;<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;Oh why did I awake? when shall I sleep again?<br/>
Think no more, lad; laugh, be jolly:<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;Why should men make haste to die?<br/>
Empty heads and tongues a-talking<br/>
Make the rough road easy walking,<br/>
And the feather pate of folly<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;Bears the falling sky.<br/>
Oh, 'tis jesting, dancing, drinking<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;Spins the heavy world around.<br/>
If young hearts were not so clever,<br/>
Oh, they would be young for ever:<br/>
Think no more; 'tis only thinking<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;Lays lads underground.<br/>
<em>Clunton and Clunbury,<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp; Clungunford and Clun,<br/>
Are the quietest places<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp; Under the sun.</em><br/>
In valleys of springs and rivers,<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;By Ony and Teme and Clun,<br/>
The country for easy livers,<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;The quietest under the sun,<br/>
We still had sorrows to lighten,<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;One could not be always glad,<br/>
And lads knew trouble at Knighton<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;When I was a Knighton lad.<br/>
By bridges that Thames runs under,<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;In London, the town built ill,<br/>
'Tis sure small matter for wonder<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;If sorrow is with one still.<br/>
And if as a lad grows older<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;The troubles he bears are more,<br/>
He carries his griefs on a shoulder<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;That handselled them long before.<br/>
Where shall one halt to deliver<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;This luggage I'd lief set down?<br/>
Not Thames, not Teme is the river,<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;Nor London nor Knighton the town:<br/>
'Tis a long way further than Knighton,<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;A quieter place than Clun,<br/>
Where doomsday may thunder and lighten<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;And little 'twill matter to one.<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;Loitering with a vacant eye<br/>
Along the Grecian gallery,<br/>
And brooding on my heavy ill,<br/>
I met a statue standing still.<br/>
Still in marble stone stood he,<br/>
And stedfastly he looked at me.<br/>
"Well met," I thought the look would say,<br/>
"We both were fashioned far away;<br/>
We neither knew, when we were young,<br/>
These Londoners we live among."<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;Still he stood and eyed me hard,<br/>
An earnest and a grave regard:<br/>
"What, lad, drooping with your lot?<br/>
I too would be where I am not.<br/>
I too survey that endless line<br/>
Of men whose thoughts are not as mine.<br/>
Years, ere you stood up from rest,<br/>
On my neck the collar prest;<br/>
Years, when you lay down your ill,<br/>
I shall stand and bear it still.<br/>
Courage, lad, 'tis not for long:<br/>
Stand, quit you like stone, be strong."<br/>
So I thought his look would say;<br/>
And light on me my trouble lay,<br/>
And I stept out in flesh and bone<br/>
Manful like the man of stone.<br/>
Far in a western brookland<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;That bred me long ago<br/>
The poplars stand and tremble<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;By pools I used to know.<br/>
There, in the windless night-time,<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;The wanderer, marvelling why,<br/>
Halts on the bridge to hearken<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;How soft the poplars sigh.<br/>
He hears: no more remembered<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;In fields where I was known,<br/>
Here I lie down in London<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;And turn to rest alone.<br/>
There, by the starlit fences,<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;The wanderer halts and hears<br/>
My soul that lingers sighing<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;About the glimmering weirs.<br/>
The lad came to the door at night,<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;When lovers crown their vows,<br/>
And whistled soft and out of sight<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;In shadow of the boughs.<br/>
"I shall not vex you with my face<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;Henceforth, my love, for aye;<br/>
So take me in your arms a space<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;Before the cast is grey.<br/>
"When I from hence away am past<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;I shall not find a bride,<br/>
And you shall be the first and last<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;I ever lay beside."<br/>
She heard and went and knew not why;<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;Her heart to his she laid;<br/>
Light was the air beneath the sky<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;But dark under the shade.<br/>
"Oh do you breathe, lad, that your breast<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;Seems not to rise and fall,<br/>
And here upon my bosom prest<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;There beats no heart at all?"<br/>
"Oh loud, my girl, it once would knock,<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;You should have felt it then;<br/>
But since for you I stopped the clock<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;It never goes again."<br/>
"Oh lad, what is it, lad, that drips<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;Wet from your neck on mine?<br/>
What is it falling on my lips,<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;My lad, that tastes of brine?"<br/>
"Oh like enough 'tis blood, my dear,<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;For when the knife was slit,<br/>
The throat across from ear to ear<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;'Twill bleed because of it."<br/>
Under the stars the air was light<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;But dark below the boughs,<br/>
The still air of the speechless night,<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;When lovers crown their vows.<br/>
With rue my heart is laden<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;For golden friends I had,<br/>
For many a rose-lipt maiden<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;And many a lightfoot lad.<br/>
By brooks too broad for leaping<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;The lightfoot boys are laid;<br/>
The rose-lipt girls are sleeping<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;In fields where roses fade.<br/>
Westward on the high-hilled plains<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;Where for me the world began,<br/>
Still, I think, in newer veins<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;Frets the changeless blood of man.<br/>
Now that other lads than I<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;Strip to bathe on Severn shore,<br/>
They, no help, for all they try,<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;Tread the mill I trod before.<br/>
There, when hueless is the west<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;And the darkness hushes wide,<br/>
Where the lad lies down to rest<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;Stands the troubled dream beside.<br/>
There, on thoughts that once were mine,<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;Day looks down the eastern steep,<br/>
And the youth at morning shine<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;Makes the vow he will not keep.<br/>
"Far I hear the bugle blow<br/>
To call me where I would not go,<br/>
And the guns begin the song,<br/>
'Soldier, fly or stay for long.'<br/>
"Comrade, if to turn and fly<br/>
Made a soldier never die,<br/>
Fly I would, for who would not?<br/>
'Tis sure no pleasure to be shot.<br/>
"But since the man that runs away<br/>
Lives to die another day,<br/>
And cowards' funerals, when they come,<br/>
Are not wept so well at home,<br/>
"Therefore, though the best is bad,<br/>
Stand and do the best, my lad;<br/>
Stand and fight and see your slain,<br/>
And take the bullet in your brain."<br/>
You smile upon your friend to-day,<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;To-day his ills are over;<br/>
You hearken to the lover's say,<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;And happy is the lover.<br/>
'Tis late to hearken, late to smile,<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;But better late than never;<br/>
I shall have lived a little while<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;Before I die for ever.<br/>
When I came last to Ludlow<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;Amidst the moonlight pale,<br/>
Two friends kept step beside me,<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;Two honest friends and hale.<br/>
Now Dick lies long in the churchyard,<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;And Ned lies long in jail,<br/>
And I come home to Ludlow<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;Amidst the moonlight pale.<br/>
The star-filled seas are smooth to-night<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;From France to England strown;<br/>
Black towers above the Portland light<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;The felon-quarried stone.<br/>
On yonder island, not to rise,<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;Never to stir forth free,<br/>
Far from his folk a dead lad lies<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;That once was friends with me.<br/>
Lie you easy, dream you light,<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;And sleep you fast for aye;<br/>
And luckier may you find the night<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;Than ever you found the day.<br/>
Now hollow fires burn out to black,<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;And lights are guttering low:<br/>
Square your shoulders, lift your pack,<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;And leave your friends and go.<br/>
Oh never fear, man, nought's to dread,<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;Look not to left nor right:<br/>
In all the endless road you tread<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;There's nothing but the night.<br/>
The vane on Hughley steeple<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;Veers bright, a far-known sign,<br/>
And there lie Hughley people<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;And there lie friends of mine.<br/>
Tall in their midst the tower<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;Divides the shade and sun,<br/>
And the clock strikes the hour<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;And tells the time to none.<br/>
To south the headstones cluster,<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;The sunny mounds lie thick;<br/>
The dead are more in muster<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;At Hughley than the quick.<br/>
North, for a soon-told number,<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;Chill graves the sexton delves,<br/>
And steeple-shadowed slumber<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;The slayers of themselves.<br/>
To north, to south, lie parted,<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;With Hughley tower above,<br/>
The kind, the single-hearted,<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;The lads I used to love.<br/>
And, south or north, 'tis only<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;A choice of friends one knows,<br/>
And I shall ne'er be lonely<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;Asleep with these or those.<br/>
"Terence, this is stupid stuff:<br/>
You eat your victuals fast enough;<br/>
There can't be much amiss, 'tis clear,<br/>
To see the rate you drink your beer.<br/>
But oh, good Lord, the verse you make,<br/>
It gives a chap the belly-ache.<br/>
The cow, the old cow, she is dead;<br/>
It sleeps well, the horned head:<br/>
We poor lads, 'tis our turn now<br/>
To hear such tunes as killed the cow.<br/>
Pretty friendship 'tis to rhyme<br/>
Your friends to death before their time<br/>
Moping melancholy mad:<br/>
Come, pipe a tune to dance to, lad."<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;Why, if 'tis dancing you would be,<br/>
There's brisker pipes than poetry.<br/>
Say, for what were hop-yards meant,<br/>
Or why was Burton built on Trent?<br/>
Oh many a peer of England brews<br/>
Livelier liquor than the Muse,<br/>
And malt does more than Milton can<br/>
To justify God's ways to man.<br/>
Ale, man, ale's the stuff to drink<br/>
For fellows whom it hurts to think:<br/>
Look into the pewter pot<br/>
To see the world as the world's not.<br/>
And faith, 'tis pleasant till 'tis past:<br/>
The mischief is that 'twill not last.<br/>
Oh I have been to Ludlow fair<br/>
And left my necktie God knows where,<br/>
And carried half way home, or near,<br/>
Pints and quarts of Ludlow beer:<br/>
Then the world seemed none so bad,<br/>
And I myself a sterling lad;<br/>
And down in lovely muck I've lain,<br/>
Happy till I woke again.<br/>
Then I saw the morning sky:<br/>
Heigho, the tale was all a lie;<br/>
The world, it was the old world yet,<br/>
I was I, my things were wet,<br/>
And nothing now remained to do<br/>
But begin the game anew.<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;Therefore, since the world has still<br/>
Much good, but much less good than ill,<br/>
And while the sun and moon endure<br/>
Luck's a chance, but trouble's sure,<br/>
I'd face it as a wise man would,<br/>
And train for ill and not for good.<br/>
'Tis true, the stuff I bring for sale<br/>
Is not so brisk a brew as ale:<br/>
Out of a stem that scored the hand<br/>
I wrung it in a weary land.<br/>
But take it: if the smack is sour<br/>
The better for the embittered hour;<br/>
It will do good to heart and head<br/>
When your soul is in my soul's stead;<br/>
And I will friend you, if I may,<br/>
In the dark and cloudy day.<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;There was a king reigned in the East:<br/>
There, when kings will sit to feast,<br/>
They get their fill before they think<br/>
With poisoned meat and poisoned drink.<br/>
He gathered all that sprang to birth<br/>
From the many-venomed earth;<br/>
First a little, thence to more,<br/>
He sampled all her killing store;<br/>
And easy, smiling, seasoned sound,<br/>
Sate the king when healths went round.<br/>
They put arsenic in his meat<br/>
And stared aghast to watch him eat;<br/>
They poured strychnine in his cup<br/>
And shook to see him drink it up:<br/>
They shook, they stared as white's their shirt:<br/>
Them it was their poison hurt.<br/>
&#151;I tell the tale that I heard told.<br/>
Mithridates, he died old.<br/>
I hoed and trenched and weeded,<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;And took the flowers to fair:<br/>
I brought them home unheeded;<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;The hue was not the wear.<br/>
So up and down I sow them<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;For lads like me to find,<br/>
When I shall lie below them,<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;A dead man out of mind.<br/>
Some seed the birds devour,<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;And some the season mars,<br/>
But here and there will flower,<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;The solitary stars,<br/>
And fields will yearly bear them<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;As light-leaved spring comes on,<br/>
And luckless lads will wear them<br/>
&nbsp;&nbsp;When I am dead and gone.<br/>
<p><a href='/'>Monadnock Press</a> &gt; <a href='/housman/'>Housman</a></p>
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