You may want to look at my selected version (made 16 years ago, and preserved for sentimental reasons). Some other Housman resources are available on the web. Housman's introductory lecture as professor at University College London is available here, and his Leslie Stephen lecture, The Name and Nature of Poetry, is also available. ‘Fragment of a Greek Tragedy’ can be found here.
Some biographical information (short and in some cases misleading) is here (Bartleby) and here (BedfordStMartins). There is also always the Wikipedia page. Here is a small list of frequently asked questions about Housman (frequently asked of me, that is).
Go to my poetry page.
From Clee to heaven the beacon burns, The shires have seen it plain, From north and south the sign returns And beacons burn again. Look left, look right, the hills are bright, The dales are light between, Because 'tis fifty years to-night That God has saved the Queen. Now, when the flame they watch not towers About the soil they trod, Lads, we'll remember friends of ours Who shared the work with God. To skies that knit their heartstrings right, To fields that bred them brave, The saviours come not home tonight: Themselves they could not save. It dawns in Asia, tombstones show And Shropshire names are read; And the Nile spills his overflow Beside the Severn's dead. We pledge in peace by farm and town The Queen they served in war, And fire the beacons up and down The land they perished for. 'God save the Queen' we living sing, From height to height 'tis heard; And with the rest your voices ring, Lads of the Fifty-third. Oh, God will save her, fear you not; Be you the men you've been, Get you the sons your fathers got, And God will save the Queen.
Loveliest of trees, the cherry now Is hung with bloom along the bough, And stands about the woodland ride Wearing white for Eastertide. Now, of my three score years and ten, Twenty will not come again, And take from seventy springs a score, It only leaves me fifty more. And since to look at things in bloom Fifty springs are little room, About the woodlands I will go To see the cherry hung with snow.
Leave your home behind, lad, And reach your friends your hand, And go, and luck go with you While Ludlow tower shall stand. Oh, come you home of Sunday When Ludlow streets are still And Ludlow bells are calling To farm and lane and mill, Or come you home of Monday When Ludlow market hums And Ludlow chimes are playing `The conquering hero comes,' Come you home a hero, Or come not home at all, The lads you leave will mind you Till Ludlow tower shall fall. And you will list the bugle That blows in lands of morn, And make the foes of England Be sorry you were born. And you till trump of doomsday On lands of morn may lie, And make the hearts of comrades Be heavy where you die. Leave your home behind you, Your friends by field and town: Oh, town and field will mind you Till Ludlow tower is down.
Wake: the silver dusk returning Up the beach of darkness brims, And the ship of sunrise burning Strands upon the eastern rims. Wake: the vaulted shadow shatters, Trampled to the floor it spanned, And the tent of night in tatters Straws the sky-pavilioned land. Up, lad, up, 'tis late for lying: Hear the drums of morning play; Hark, the empty highways crying `Who'll beyond the hills away?' Towns and countries woo together, Forelands beacon, belfries call; Never lad that trod on leather Lived to feast his heart with all. Up, lad: thews that lie and cumber Sunlit pallets never thrive; Morns abed and daylight slumber Were not meant for man alive. Clay lies still, but blood's a rover; Breath's a ware that will not keep. Up, lad: when the journey's over There'll be time enough to sleep.
Oh see how thick the goldcup flowers Are lying in field and lane, With dandelions to tell the hours That never are told again. Oh may I squire you round the meads And pick you posies gay? -- 'Twill do no harm to take my arm. `You may, young man, you may.' Ah, spring was sent for lass and lad, 'Tis now the blood runs gold, And man and maid had best be glad Before the world is old. What flowers to-day may flower to-morrow, But never as good as new. -- Suppose I wound my arm right round -- `'Tis true, young man, 'tis true.' Some lads there are, 'tis shame to say, That only court to thieve, And once they bear the bloom away 'Tis little enough they leave. Then keep your heart for men like me And safe from trustless chaps. My love is true and all for you. `Perhaps, young man, perhaps.' Oh, look in my eyes then, can you doubt? -- Why, 'tis a mile from town. How green the grass is all about! We might as well sit down. -- Ah, life, what is it but a flower? Why must true lovers sigh? Be kind, have pity, my own, my pretty, -- `Good-bye, young man, good-bye.'
When the lad for longing sighs, Mute and dull of cheer and pale, If at death's own door he lies, Maiden, you can heal his ail. Lovers' ills are all to buy: The wan look, the hollow tone, The hung head, the sunken eye, You can have them for your own. Buy them, buy them: eve and morn Lovers' ills are all to sell. Then you can lie down forlorn; But the lover will be well.
When smoke stood up from Ludlow, And mist blew off from Teme, And blithe afield to ploughing Against the morning beam I strode beside my team, The blackbird in the coppice Looked out to see me stride, And hearkened as I whistled The trampling team beside, And fluted and replied: `Lie down, lie down, young yeoman; What use to rise and rise? Rise man a thousand mornings Yet down at last he lies, And then the man is wise.' I heard the tune he sang me, And spied his yellow bill; I picked a stone and aimed it And threw it with a will: Then the bird was still. Then my soul within me Took up the blackbird's strain, And still beside the horses Along the dewy lane It sang the song again: `Lie down, lie down, young yeoman; The sun moves always west; The road one treads to labour Will lead one home to rest, And that will be the best.'
`Farewell to barn and stack and tree, Farewell to Severn shore. Terence, look your last at me, For I come home no more. `The sun burns on the half-mown hill, By now the blood is dried; And Maurice amongst the hay lies still And my knife is in his side. `My mother thinks us long away; 'Tis time the field were mown. She had two sons at rising day, To-night she'll be alone. `And here's a bloody hand to shake, And oh, man, here's good-bye; We'll sweat no more on scythe and rake, My bloody hands and I. `I wish you strength to bring you pride, And a love to keep you clean, And I wish you luck, come Lammastide, At racing on the green. `Long for me the rick will wait, And long will wait the fold, And long will stand the empty plate, And dinner will be cold.'
On moonlit heath and lonesome bank The sheep beside me graze; And yon the gallows used to clank Fast by the four cross ways. A careless shepherd once would keep The flocks by moonlight there, And high amongst the glimmering sheep The dead man stood on air. They hang us now in Shrewsbury jail: The whistles blow forlorn, And trains all night groan on the rail To men that die at morn. There sleeps in Shrewsbury jail to-night, Or wakes, as may betide, A better lad, if things went right, Than most that sleep outside. And naked to the hangman's noose The morning clocks will ring A neck God made for other use Than strangling in a string. And sharp the link of life will snap, And dead on air will stand Heels that held up as straight a chap As treads upon the land. So here I'll watch the night and wait To see the morning shine, When he will hear the stroke of eight And not the stroke of nine; And wish my friend as sound a sleep As lads' I did not know, That shepherded the moonlit sheep A hundred years ago.  Hanging in chains was called keeping sheep by moonlight.
The Sun at noon to higher air, Unharnessing the silver Pair That late before his chariot swam, Rides on the gold wool of the Ram. So braver notes the storm-cock sings To start the rusted wheel of things, And brutes in field and brutes in pen Leap that the world goes round again. The boys are up the woods with day To fetch the daffodils away, And home at noonday from the hills They bring no dearth of daffodils. Afield for palms the girls repair, And sure enough the palms are there, And each will find by hedge or pond Her waving silver-tufted wand. In farm and field through all the shire The eye beholds the heart's desire; Ah, let not only mine be vain, For lovers should be loved again.
On your midnight pallet lying, Listen, and undo the door: Lads that waste the light in sighing In the dark should sigh no more; Night should ease a lover's sorrow; Therefore, since I go to-morrow, Pity me before. In the land to which I travel, The far dwelling, let me say -- Once, if here the couch is gravel, In a kinder bed I lay, And the breast the darnel smothers Rested once upon another's When it was not clay.
When I watch the living meet, And the moving pageant file Warm and breathing through the street Where I lodge a little while, If the heats of hate and lust In the house of flesh are strong, Let me mind the house of dust Where my sojourn shall be long. In the nation that is not Nothing stands that stood before; There revenges are forgot, And the hater hates no more; Lovers lying two and two Ask not whom they sleep beside, And the bridegroom all night through Never turns him to the bride.
When I was one-and-twenty I heard a wise man say, `Give crowns and pounds and guineas But not your heart away; Give pearls away and rubies But keep your fancy free.' But I was one-and-twenty No use to talk to me. When I was one-and-twenty I heard him say again, `The heart out of the bosom Was never given in vain; 'Tis paid with sighs a plenty And sold for endless rue.' And I am two-and-twenty And oh, 'tis true, 'tis true.
There pass the careless people That call their souls their own; Here by the road I loiter, How idle and alone. Ah, past the plunge of plummet, In seas I cannot sound, My heart and soul and senses, World without end, are drowned. His folly has not fellow Beneath the blue of day That gives to man or woman His heart and soul away. There flowers no balm to sain him From east of earth to west That's lost for everlasting The heart out of his breast. Here by the labouring highway With empty hands I stroll: Sea-deep, till doomsday morning, Lie lost my heart and soul.
Look not in my eyes, for fear They mirror true the sight I see, And there you find your face too clear And love it and be lost like me. One the long nights through must lie Spent in star-defeated sighs, But why should you as well as I Perish? gaze not in my eyes. A Grecian lad, as I hear tell, One that many loved in vain, Looked into a forest well And never looked away again. There, when the turf in springtime flowers, With downward eye and gazes sad, Stands amid the glancing showers A jonquil, not a Grecian lad.
It nods and curtseys and recovers When the wind blows above, The nettle on the graves of lovers That hanged themselves for love. The nettle nods, the wind blows over, The man, he does not move, The lover of the grave, the lover That hanged himself for love.
Twice a week the winter through Here stood I to keep the goal: Football then was fighting sorrow For the young man's soul. Now in Maytime to the wicket Out I march with bat and pad: See the son of grief at cricket Trying to be glad. Try I will; no harm in trying: Wonder 'tis how little mirth Keeps the bones of man from lying On the bed of earth.
Oh, when I was in love with you Then I was clean and brave, And miles around the wonder grew How well did I behave. And now the fancy passes by And nothing will remain, And miles around they'll say that I Am quite myself again.
The time you won your town the race We chaired you through the market-place; Man and boy stood cheering by, And home we brought you shoulder-high. To-day, the road all runners come, Shoulder-high we bring you home, And set you at your threshold down, Townsman of a stiller town. Smart lad, to slip betimes away From fields where glory does not stay, And early though the laurel grows It withers quicker than the rose. Eyes the shady night has shut Cannot see the record cut, And silence sounds no worse than cheers After earth has stopped the ears: Now you will not swell the rout Of lads that wore their honours out, Runners whom renown outran And the name died before the man. So set, before the echoes fade, The fleet foot on the sill of shade, And hold to the low lintel up The still-defended challenge-cup. And round that early-laurelled head Will flock to gaze the strengthless dead, And find unwithered on its curls The garland briefer than a girl's.
Oh fair enough are sky and plain, But I know fairer far: Those are as beautiful again That in the water are; The pools and rivers wash so clean The trees and clouds and air, The like on earth has never seen, And oh that I were there. These are the thoughts I often think As I stand gazing down In act upon the cressy brink To strip and dive and drown; But in the golden-sanded brooks And azure meres I spy A silly lad that longs and looks And wishes he were I.
In summertime on Bredon The bells they sound so clear; Round both the shires they ring them In steeples far and near, A happy noise to hear. Here of a Sunday morning My love and I would lie, And see the coloured counties, And hear the larks so high About us in the sky. The bells would ring to call her In valleys miles away: `Come all to church, good people; Good people, come and pray.' But here my love would stay. And I would turn and answer Among the springing thyme, `Oh, peal upon our wedding, And we will hear the chime, And come to church in time.' But when the snows at Christmas On Bredon top were strown, My love rose up so early And stole out unbeknown And went to church alone. They tolled the one bell only, Groom there was none to see, The mourners followed after, And so to church went she, And would not wait for me. The bells they sound on Bredon And still the steeples hum. `Come all to church, good people,' -- Oh, noisy bells, be dumb; I hear you, I will come.  Pronounced Breedon.
The street sounds to the soldiers' tread, And out we troop to see: A single redcoat turns his head, He turns and looks at me. My man, from sky to sky's so far, We never crossed before; Such leagues apart the world's ends are, We're like to meet no more; What thoughts at heart have you and I We cannot stop to tell; But dead or living, drunk or dry, Soldier, I wish you well.
The lads in their hundreds to Ludlow come in for the fair, There's men from the barn and the forge and the mill and the fold, The lads for the girls and the lads for the liquor are there, And there with the rest are the lads that will never be old. There's chaps from the town and the field and the till and the cart, And many to count are the stalwart, and many the brave, And many the handsome of face and the handsome of heart, And few that will carry their looks or their truth to the grave. I wish one could know them, I wish there were tokens to tell The fortunate fellows that now you can never discern; And then one could talk with them friendly and wish them farewell And watch them depart on the way that they will not return. But now you may stare as you like and there's nothing to scan; And brushing your elbow unguessed-at and not to be told They carry back bright to the coiner the mintage of man, The lads that will die in their glory and never be old.
Say, lad, have you things to do? Quick then, while your day's at prime. Quick, and if 'tis work for two, Here am I man: now's your time. Send me now, and I shall go; Call me, I shall hear you call; Use me ere they lay me low Where a man's no use at all; Ere the wholesome flesh decay And the willing nerve be numb, And the lips lack breath to say, `No, my lad, I cannot come.'
This time of year a twelvemonth past, When Fred and I would meet, We needs must jangle, till at last We fought and I was beat. So then the summer fields about, Till rainy days began, Rose Harland on her Sundays out Walked with the better man. The better man she walks with still, Though now 'tis not with Fred: A lad that lives and has his will Is worth a dozen dead. Fred keeps the house all kinds of weather, And clay's the house he keeps; When Rose and I walk out together Stock-still lies Fred and sleeps.
Along the field as we came by A year ago, my love and I, The aspen over stile and stone Was talking to itself alone. `Oh who are these that kiss and pass? A country lover and his lass; Two lovers looking to be wed; And time shall put them both to bed, But she shall lie with earth above, And he beside another love.' And sure enough beneath the tree There walks another love with me, And overhead the aspen heaves Its rainy-sounding silver leaves; And I spell nothing in their stir, But now perhaps they speak to her, And plain for her to understand They talk about a time at hand When I shall sleep with clover clad, And she beside another lad.
`Is my team ploughing, That I was used to drive And hear the harness jingle When I was man alive?' Ay, the horses trample, The harness jingles now; No change though you lie under The land you used to plough. `Is football playing Along the river shore, With lads to chase the leather, Now I stand up no more?' Ay, the ball is flying, The lads play heart and soul; The goal stands up, the keeper Stands up to keep the goal. `Is my girl happy, That I thought hard to leave, And has she tired of weeping As she lies down at eve?' Ay, she lies down lightly, She lies not down to weep, Your girl is well contented. Be still, my lad, and sleep. `Is my friend hearty, Now I am thin and pine, And has he found to sleep in A better bed than mine?' Yes, lad, I lie easy, I lie as lads would choose; I cheer a dead man's sweetheart, Never ask me whose.
High the vanes of Shrewsbury gleam Islanded in Severn stream; The bridges from the steepled crest Cross the water east and west. The flag of morn in conqueror's state Enters at the English gate: The vanquished eve, as night prevails, Bleeds upon the road to Wales. Ages since the vanquished bled Round my mother's marriage-bed; There the ravens feasted far About the open house of war: When Severn down to Buildwas ran Coloured with the death of man, Couched upon her brother's grave That Saxon got me on the slave. The sound of fight is silent long That began the ancient wrong; Long the voice of tears is still That wept of old the endless ill. In my heart it has not died, The war that sleeps on Severn side; They cease not fighting, east and west, On the marches of my breast. Here the truceless armies yet Trample, rolled in blood and sweat; They kill and kill and never die; And I think that each is I. None will part us, none undo The knot that makes one flesh of two, Sick with hatred, sick with pain, Strangling-- When shall we be slain? When shall I be dead and rid Of the wrong my father did? How long, how long, till spade and hearse Puts to sleep my mother's curse?
'Tis spring; come out to ramble The hilly brakes around, For under thorn and bramble About the hollow ground The primroses are found. And there's the windflower chilly With all the winds at play, And there's the Lenten lily That has not long to stay And dies on Easter day. And since till girls go maying You find the primrose still, And find the windflower playing With every wind at will, But not the daffodil, Bring baskets now, and sally Upon the spring's array, And bear from hill and valley The daffodil away That dies on Easter day.
Others, I am not the first, Have willed more mischief than they durst: If in the breathless night I too Shiver now, 'tis nothing new. More than I, if truth were told, Have stood and sweated hot and cold, And through their reins in ice and fire Fear contended with desire. Agued once like me were they, But I like them shall win my way Lastly to the bed of mould Where there's neither heat nor cold. But from my grave across my brow Plays no wind of healing now, And fire and ice within me fight Beneath the suffocating night.
On Wenlock Edge the wood's in trouble; His forest fleece the Wrekin heaves; The gale, it plies the saplings double, And thick on Severn snow the leaves. 'Twould blow like this through holt and hanger When Uricon the city stood: 'Tis the old wind in the old anger, But then it threshed another wood. Then, 'twas before my time, the Roman At yonder heaving hill would stare: The blood that warms an English yeoman, The thoughts that hurt him, they were there. There, like the wind through woods in riot, Through him the gale of life blew high; The tree of man was never quiet: Then 'twas the Roman, now 'tis I. The gale, it plies the saplings double, It blows so hard, 'twill soon be gone: To-day the Roman and his trouble Are ashes under Uricon.
From far, from eve and morning And yon twelve-winded sky, The stuff of life to knit me Blew hither: here am I. Now -- for a breath I tarry Nor yet disperse apart -- Take my hand quick and tell me, What have you in your heart. Speak now, and I will answer; How shall I help you, say; Ere to the wind's twelve quarters I take my endless way.
If truth in hearts that perish Could move the powers on high, I think the love I bear you Should make you not to die. Sure, sure, if stedfast meaning, If single thought could save, The world might end to-morrow, You should not see the grave. This long and sure-set liking, This boundless will to please, -- Oh, you should live for ever, If there were help in these. But now, since all is idle, To this lost heart be kind, Ere to a town you journey Where friends are ill to find.
'Oh, sick I am to see you, will you never let me be? You may be good for something but you are not good for me. Oh, go where you are wanted, for you are not wanted here.' And that was all the farewell when I parted from my dear. I will go where I am wanted, to a lady born and bred Who will dress me free for nothing in a uniform of red; She will not be sick to see me if I only keep it clean: I will go where I am wanted for a soldier of the Queen. I will go where I am wanted, for the sergeant does not mind; He may be sick to see me but he treats me very kind: He gives me beer and breakfast and a ribbon for my cap, And I never knew a sweetheart spend her money on a chap. I will go where I am wanted, where there's room for one or two, And the men are none too many for the work there is to do; Where the standing line wears thinner and the dropping dead lie thick; And the enemies of England they shall see me and be sick.
On the idle hill of summer, Sleepy with the flow of streams, Far I hear the steady drummer Drumming like a noise in dreams. Far and near and low and louder On the roads of earth go by, Dear to friends and food for powder, Soldiers marching, all to die. East and west on fields forgotten Bleach the bones of comrades slain, Lovely lads and dead and rotten; None that go return again. Far the calling bugles hollo, High the screaming fife replies, Gay the files of scarlet follow: Woman bore me, I will rise.
White in the moon the long road lies, The moon stands blank above; White in the moon the long road lies That leads me from my love. Still hangs the hedge without a gust, Still, still the shadows stay: My feet upon the moonlit dust Pursue the ceaseless way. The world is round, so travellers tell, And straight though reach the track, Trudge on, trudge on, 'twill all be well, The way will guide one back. But ere the circle homeward hies Far, far must it remove: White in the moon the long road lies That leads me from my love.
As through the wild green hills of Wyre The train ran, changing sky and shire, And far behind, a fading crest, Low in the forsaken west Sank the high-reared head of Clee, My hand lay empty on my knee. Aching on my knee it lay: That morning half a shire away So many an honest fellow's fist Had well-nigh wrung it from the wrist. Hand, said I, since now we part From fields and men we know by heart, For strangers' faces, strangers' lands,-- Hand, you have held true fellows' hands. Be clean then; rot before you do A thing they'll not believe of you. You and I must keep from shame In London streets the Shropshire name; On banks of Thames they must not say Severn breeds worse men than they; And friends abroad must bear in mind Friends at home they leave behind. Oh, I shall be stiff and cold When I forget you, hearts of gold; The land where I shall mind you not Is the land where all's forgot. And if my foot returns no more To Teme nor Corve nor Severn shore, Luck, my lads, be with you still By falling stream and standing hill, By chiming tower and whispering tree, Men that made a man of me. About your work in town and farm Still you'll keep my head from harm, Still you'll help me, hands that gave A grasp to friend me to the grave.
The winds out of the west land blow, My friends have breathed them there; Warm with the blood of lads I know Comes east the sighing air. It fanned their temples, filled their lungs, Scattered their forelocks free; My friends made words of it with tongues That talk no more to me. Their voices, dying as they fly, Thick on the wind are sown; The names of men blow soundless by, My fellows' and my own. Oh lads, at home I heard you plain, But here your speech is still, And down the sighing wind in vain You hollo from the hill. The wind and I, we both were there, But neither long abode; Now through the friendless world we fare And sigh upon the road.
'Tis time, I think, by Wenlock town The golden broom should blow; The hawthorn sprinkled up and down Should charge the land with snow. Spring will not wait the loiterer's time Who keeps so long away; So others wear the broom and climb The hedgerows heaped with may. Oh tarnish late on Wenlock Edge, Gold that I never see; Lie long, high snowdrifts in the hedge That will not shower on me.
Into my heart an air that kills From yon far country blows: What are those blue remembered hills, What spires, what farms are those? That is the land of lost content, I see it shining plain, The happy highways where I went And cannot come again.
In my own shire, if I was sad, Homely comforters I had: The earth, because my heart was sore, Sorrowed for the son she bore; And standing hills, long to remain, Shared their short-lived comrade's pain. And bound for the same bourn as I, On every road I wandered by, Trod beside me, close and dear, The beautiful and death-struck year: Whether in the woodland brown I heard the beechnut rustle down, And saw the purple crocus pale Flower about the autumn dale; Or littering far the fields of May Lady-smocks a-bleaching lay, And like a skylit water stood The bluebells in the azured wood. Yonder, lightening other loads, The seasons range the country roads, But here in London streets I ken No such helpmates, only men; And these are not in plight to bear, If they would, another's care. They have enough as 'tis: I see In many an eye that measures me The mortal sickness of a mind Too unhappy to be kind. Undone with misery, all they can Is to hate their fellow man; And till they drop they needs must still Look at you and wish you ill.
Once in the wind of morning I ranged the thymy wold; The world-wide air was azure And all the brooks ran gold. There through the dews beside me Behold a youth that trod, With feathered cap on forehead, And poised a golden rod. With mien to match the morning And gay delightful guise And friendly brows and laughter He looked me in the eyes. Oh whence, I asked, and whither? He smiled and would not say. And looked at me and beckoned, And laughed and led the way. And with kind looks and laughter And nought to say beside, We two went on together, I and my happy guide. Across the glittering pastures And empty upland still And solitude of shepherds High in the folded hill, By hanging woods and hamlets That gaze through orchards down On many a windmill turning And far-discovered town, With gay regards of promise And sure unslackened stride And smiles and nothing spoken Led on my merry guide. By blowing realms of woodland With sunstruck vanes afield And cloud-led shadows sailing About the windy weald, By valley-guarded granges And silver waters wide, Content at heart I followed With my delightful guide. And like the cloudy shadows Across the country blown We two fare on for ever, But not we two alone. With the great gale we journey That breathes from gardens thinned, Borne in the drift of blossoms Whose petals throng the wind; Buoyed on the heaven-ward whisper Of dancing leaflets whirled From all the woods that autumn Bereaves in all the world. And midst the fluttering legion Of all that ever died I follow, and before us Goes the delightful guide, With lips that brim with laughter But never once respond, And feet that fly on feathers, And serpent-circled wand.
When I meet the morning beam, Or lay me down at night to dream, I hear my bones within me say, `Another night, another day. `When shall this slough of sense be cast, This dust of thoughts be laid at last, The man of flesh and soul be slain And the man of bone remain? `This tongue that talks, these lungs that shout, These thews that hustle us about, This brain that fills the skull with schemes, And its humming hive of dreams, -- `These to-day are proud in power And lord it in their little hour: The immortal bones obey control Of dying flesh and dying soul. `'Tis long till eve and morn are gone: Slow the endless night comes on, And late to fulness grows the birth That shall last as long as earth. `Wanderers eastward, wanderers west, Know you why you cannot rest? 'Tis that every mother's son Travails with a skeleton. `Lie down in the bed of dust; Bear the fruit that bear you must; Bring the eternal seed to light, And morn is all the same as night. `Rest you so from trouble sore, Fear the heat o' the sun no more, Nor the snowing winter wild, Now you labour not with child. `Empty vessel, garment cast, We that wore you long shall last. -- Another night, another day.' So my bones within me say. Therefore they shall do my will To-day while I am master still, And flesh and soul, now both are strong, Shall hale the sullen slaves along, Before this fire of sense decay, This smoke of thought blow clean away, And leave with ancient night alone The stedfast and enduring bone.
Shot? so quick, so clean an ending? Oh that was right, lad, that was brave: Yours was not an ill for mending, 'Twas best to take it to the grave. Oh you had forethought, you could reason, And saw your road and where it led, And early wise and brave in season Put the pistol to your head. Oh soon, and better so than later After long disgrace and scorn, You shot dead the household traitor, The soul that should not have been born. Right you guessed the rising morrow And scorned to tread the mire you must: Dust's your wages, son of sorrow, But men may come to worse than dust. Souls undone, undoing others, -- Long time since the tale began. You would not live to wrong your brothers: Oh lad, you died as fits a man. Now to your grave shall friend and stranger With ruth and some with envy come: Undishonoured, clear of danger, Clean of guilt, pass hence and home. Turn safe to rest, no dreams, no waking; And here, man, here's the wreath I've made: 'Tis not a gift that's worth the taking, But wear it and it will not fade.
If by chance your eye offend you, Pluck it out, lad, and be sound: 'Twill hurt, but here are salves to friend you, And many a balsam grows on ground. And if your hand or foot offend you, Cut it off, lad, and be whole; But play the man, stand up and end you, When your sickness is your soul.
Bring, in this timeless grave to throw, No cypress, sombre on the snow; Snap not from the bitter yew His leaves that live December though; Break no rosemary, bright with rime And sparkling to the cruel clime; Nor plod the winter land to look For willows in the icy brook To cast them leafless round him: bring No spray that ever buds in spring. But if the Christmas field has kept Awns the last gleaner overstept, Or shrivelled flax, whose flower is blue A single season, never two; Or if one haulm whose year is o'er Shivers on the upland frore, -- Oh, bring from hill and stream and plain Whatever will not flower again, To give him comfort: he and those Shall bide eternal bedfellows Where low upon the couch he lies Whence he never shall arise.
`Here the hangman stops his cart: Now the best of friends must part. Fare you well, for ill fare I: Live, lads, and I will die. `Oh, at home had I but stayed 'Prenticed to my father's trade, Had I stuck to plane and adze, I had not been lost, my lads. `Then I might have built perhaps Gallows-trees for other chaps, Never dangled on my own, Had I left but ill alone. `Now, you see, they hang me high, And the people passing by Stop to shake their fists and curse; So 'tis come from ill to worse. `Here hang I, and right and left Two poor fellows hang for theft: All the same's the luck we prove, Though the midmost hangs for love. `Comrades all, that stand and gaze, Walk henceforth in other ways; See my neck and save your own: Comrades all, leave ill alone. `Make some day a decent end, Shrewder fellows than your friend. Fare you well, for ill fare I: Live, lads, and I will die.'
Be still, my soul, be still; the arms you bear are brittle, Earth and high heaven are fixt of old and founded strong. Think rather, -- call to thought, if now you grieve a little, The days when we had rest, O soul, for they were long. Men loved unkindness then, but lightless in the quarry I slept and saw not; tears fell down, I did not mourn; Sweat ran and blood sprang out and I was never sorry: Then it was well with me, in days ere I was born. Now, and I muse for why and never find the reason, I pace the earth, and drink the air, and feel the sun. Be still, be still, my soul; it is but for a season: Let us endure an hour and see injustice done. Ay, look: high heaven and earth ail from the prime foundation; All thoughts to rive the heart are here, and all are vain: Horror and scorn and hate and fear and indignation -- Oh why did I awake? when shall I sleep again?
Think no more, lad; laugh, be jolly: Why should men make haste to die? Empty heads and tongues a-talking Make the rough road easy walking, And the feather pate of folly Bears the falling sky. Oh, 'tis jesting, dancing, drinking Spins the heavy world around. If young hearts were not so clever, Oh, they would be young for ever: Think no more; 'tis only thinking Lays lads underground.
Clunton and Clunbury, Clungunford and Clun, Are the quietest places Under the sun. In valleys of springs and rivers, By Ony and Teme and Clun, The country for easy livers, The quietest under the sun, We still had sorrows to lighten, One could not be always glad, And lads knew trouble at Knighton When I was a Knighton lad. By bridges that Thames runs under, In London, the town built ill, 'Tis sure small matter for wonder If sorrow is with one still. And if as a lad grows older The troubles he bears are more, He carries his griefs on a shoulder That handselled them long before. Where shall one halt to deliver This luggage I'd lief set down? Not Thames, not Teme is the river, Nor London nor Knighton the town: 'Tis a long way further than Knighton, A quieter place than Clun, Where doomsday may thunder and lighten And little 'twill matter to one.
Loitering with a vacant eye Along the Grecian gallery, And brooding on my heavy ill, I met a statue standing still. Still in marble stone stood he, And stedfastly he looked at me. `Well met,' I thought the look would say, `We both were fashioned far away; We neither knew, when we were young, These Londoners we live among.' Still he stood and eyed me hard, An earnest and a grave regard: `What, lad, drooping with your lot? I too would be where I am not. I too survey that endless line Of men whose thoughts are not as mine. Years, ere you stood up from rest, On my neck the collar prest; Years, when you lay down your ill, I shall stand and bear it still. Courage, lad, 'tis not for long: Stand, quit you like stone, be strong.' So I thought his look would say; And light on me my trouble lay, And I stept out in flesh and bone Manful like the man of stone.
Far in a western brookland That bred me long ago The poplars stand and tremble By pools I used to know. There, in the windless night-time, The wanderer, marvelling why, Halts on the bridge to hearken How soft the poplars sigh. He hears: no more remembered In fields where I was known, Here I lie down in London And turn to rest alone. There, by the starlit fences, The wanderer halts and hears My soul that lingers sighing About the glimmering weirs.
The lad came to the door at night, When lovers crown their vows, And whistled soft and out of sight In shadow of the boughs. `I shall not vex you with my face Henceforth, my love, for aye; So take me in your arms a space Before the cast is grey. `When I from hence away am past I shall not find a bride, And you shall be the first and last I ever lay beside.' She heard and went and knew not why; Her heart to his she laid; Light was the air beneath the sky But dark under the shade. `Oh do you breathe, lad, that your breast Seems not to rise and fall, And here upon my bosom prest There beats no heart at all?' `Oh loud, my girl, it once would knock, You should have felt it then; But since for you I stopped the clock It never goes again.' `Oh lad, what is it, lad, that drips Wet from your neck on mine? What is it falling on my lips, My lad, that tastes of brine?' `Oh like enough 'tis blood, my dear, For when the knife has slit, The throat across from ear to ear 'Twill bleed because of it.' Under the stars the air was light But dark below the boughs, The still air of the speechless night, When lovers crown their vows.
With rue my heart is laden For golden friends I had, For many a rose-lipt maiden And many a lightfoot lad. By brooks too broad for leaping The lightfoot boys are laid; The rose-lipt girls are sleeping In fields where roses fade.
Westward on the high-hilled plains Where for me the world began, Still, I think, in newer veins Frets the changeless blood of man. Now that other lads than I Strip to bathe on Severn shore, They, no help, for all they try, Tread the mill I trod before. There, when hueless is the west And the darkness hushes wide, Where the lad lies down to rest Stands the troubled dream beside. There, on thoughts that once were mine, Day looks down the eastern steep, And the youth at morning shine Makes the vow he will not keep.
`Far I hear the bugle blow To call me where I would not go, And the guns begin the song, "Soldier, fly or stay for long." `Comrade, if to turn and fly Made a soldier never die, Fly I would, for who would not? 'Tis sure no pleasure to be shot. `But since the man that runs away Lives to die another day, And cowards' funerals, when they come, Are not wept so well at home, `Therefore, though the best is bad, Stand and do the best, my lad; Stand and fight and see your slain, And take the bullet in your brain.;
You smile upon your friend to-day, To-day his ills are over; You hearken to the lover's say, And happy is the lover. 'Tis late to hearken, late to smile, But better late than never; I shall have lived a little while Before I die for ever.
When I came last to Ludlow Amidst the moonlight pale, Two friends kept step beside me, Two honest friends and hale. Now Dick lies long in the churchyard, And Ned lies long in jail, And I come home to Ludlow Amidst the moonlight pale.
The star-filled seas are smooth to-night From France to England strown; Black towers above the Portland light The felon-quarried stone. On yonder island, not to rise, Never to stir forth free, Far from his folk a dead lad lies That once was friends with me. Lie you easy, dream you light, And sleep you fast for aye; And luckier may you find the night Than ever you found the day.
Now hollow fires burn out to black, And lights are guttering low: Square your shoulders, lift your pack, And leave your friends and go. Oh never fear, man, nought's to dread, Look not to left nor right: In all the endless road you tread There's nothing but the night.
The vane on Hughley steeple Veers bright, a far-known sign, And there lie Hughley people And there lie friends of mine. Tall in their midst the tower Divides the shade and sun, And the clock strikes the hour And tells the time to none. To south the headstones cluster, The sunny mounds lie thick; The dead are more in muster At Hughley than the quick. North, for a soon-told number, Chill graves the sexton delves, And steeple-shadowed slumber The slayers of themselves. To north, to south, lie parted, With Hughley tower above, The kind, the single-hearted, The lads I used to love. And, south or north, 'tis only A choice of friends one knows, And I shall ne'er be lonely Asleep with these or those.
`Terence, this is stupid stuff: You eat your victuals fast enough; There's nothing much amiss, 'tis clear, To see the rate you drink your beer. But oh, good Lord, the verse you make, It gives a chap the belly-ache. The cow, the old cow, she is dead; It sleeps well, the horned head: We poor lads, 'tis our turn now To hear such tunes as killed the cow. Pretty friendship 'tis to rhyme Your friends to death before their time Moping melancholy mad: Come, pipe a tune to dance to, lad.' Why, if 'tis dancing you would be, There's brisker pipes than poetry. Say, for what were hop-yards meant, Or why was Burton built on Trent? Oh many a peer of England brews Livelier liquor than the Muse, And malt does more than Milton can To justify God's ways to man. Ale, man, ale's the stuff to drink For fellows whom it hurts to think: Look into the pewter pot To see the world as the world's not. And faith, 'tis pleasant till 'tis past: The mischief is that 'twill not last. Oh I have been to Ludlow fair And left my necktie God knows where, And carried half way home, or near, Pints and quarts of Ludlow beer: Then the world seemed none so bad, And I myself a sterling lad; And down in lovely muck I've lain, Happy till I woke again. Then I saw the morning sky: Heigho, the tale was all a lie; The world, it was the old world yet, I was I, my things were wet, And nothing now remained to do But begin the game anew. Therefore, since the world has still Much good, but much less good than ill, And while the sun and moon endure Luck's a chance, but trouble's sure, I'd face it as a wise man would, And train for ill and not for good. 'Tis true, the stuff I bring for sale Is not so brisk a brew as ale: Out of a stem that scored the hand I wrung it in a weary land. But take it: if the smack is sour The better for the embittered hour; It will do good to heart and head When your soul is in my soul's stead; And I will friend you, if I may, In the dark and cloudy day. There was a king reigned in the East: There, when kings will sit to feast, They get their fill before they think With poisoned meat and poisoned drink. He gathered all that sprang to birth From the many-venomed earth; First a little, thence to more, He sampled all her killing store; And easy, smiling, seasoned sound, Sate the king when healths went round. They put arsenic in his meat And stared aghast to watch him eat; They poured strychnine in his cup And shook to see him drink it up: They shook, they stared as white's their shirt: Them it was their poison hurt. -- I tell the tale that I heard told. Mithridates, he died old.
I hoed and trenched and weeded, And took the flowers to fair: I brought them home unheeded; The hue was not the wear. So up and down I sow them For lads like me to find, When I shall lie below them, A dead man out of mind. Some seed the birds devour, And some the season mars, But here and there will flower, The solitary stars, And fields will yearly bear them As light-leaved spring comes on, And luckless lads will wear them When I am dead and gone.
Beyond the moor and mountain crest -- Comrade, look not on the west -- The sun is down and drinks away From air and land the lees of day. The long cloud and the single pine Sentinel the ending line, And out beyond it, clear and wan Reach the gulfs of evening on. The son of woman turns his brow West from forty counties now, And, as the edge of heaven he eyes, Thinks eternal thoughts, and sighs. Oh wide's the world, to rest or roam, With change abroad and cheer at home, Fights and furloughs, talk and tale, Company and beef and ale. But if I front the evening sky Silent on the west look I, And my comrade, stride for stride, Paces silent at my side. Comrade, look not on the west: 'Twill have the heart out of your breast; 'Twill take your thoughts and sink them far, Leagues beyond the western bar. Oh lad, I fear that yon's the sea Where they fished for you and me, And there, from whence we both were ta'en, You and I shall drown again. Send not on your soul before To dive from that beguiling shore, And let not yet the swimmer leave His clothes upon the sands of eve. Too fast to yonder strand forlorn We journey, to the sunken bourn, To flush the fading tinges eyed By other lads at eventide. Wide is the world, to rest or roam, And early 'tis for turning home: Plant your heel on earth and stand, And let's forget our native land. When you and I are spilt on air Long we shall be strangers there; Friends of flesh and bone are best: Comrade, look not on the west.
As I gird on for fighting My sword upon my thigh, I think on old ill fortunes Of better men than I. Think I, the round world over, What golden lads are low With hurts not mine to mourn for And shames I shall not know. What evil luck soever For me remains in store, 'Tis sure much finer fellows Have fared much worse before. So here are things to think on That ought to make me brave, As I strap on for fighting My sword that will not save.
Her strong enchantments failing, Her towers of fear in wreck, Her limbecks dried of poisons And the knife at her neck, The Queen of air and darkness Begins to shrill and cry, `O young man, O my slayer To-morrow you shall die.' O Queen of air and darkness I think 'tis truth you say, And I shall die to-morrow; But you shall die to-day.
Oh hard is the bed they have made him, And common the blanket and cheap; But there he will lie as they laid him: Where else could you trust him to sleep? To sleep when the bugle is crying And cravens have heard and are brave, When mothers and sweethearts are sighing And lads are in love with the grave. Oh dark is the chamber and lonely, And lights and companions depart; But lief will he lose them and only Behold the desire of his heart. And low is the roof, but it covers A sleeper content to repose; And far from his friends and his lovers He lies with the sweetheart he chose.
The Queen she sent to look for me, The sergeant he did say, `Young man, a soldier will you be For thirteen pence a day?' For thirteen pence a day did I Take off the things I wore, And I have marched to where I lie, And I shall march no more. My mouth is dry, my shirt is wet, My blood runs all away, So now I shall not die in debt For thirteen pence a day. To-morrow after new young men The sergeant he must see, For things will all be over then Between the Queen and me. And I shall have to bate my price, For in the grave, they say, Is neither knowledge nor device Nor thirteen pence a day.
I 'listed at home for a lancer, Oh who would not sleep with the brave? I 'listed at home for a lancer To ride on a horse to my grave. And over the seas we were bidden A country to take and to keep; And far with the brave I have ridden, And now with the brave I shall sleep. For round me the men will be lying That learned me the way to behave, And showed me my business of dying: Oh who would not sleep with the brave? They ask, and there is not an answer; Says I, I will 'list for a lancer, Oh who would not sleep with the brave? And I with the brave shall be sleeping At ease on my mattress of loam, When back from their taking and keeping The squadron is riding at home. The wind with the plumes will be playing, The girls will stand watching them wave, And eyeing my comrades and saying Oh who would not sleep with the brave? They ask, and there is not an answer; Says you, I will 'list for a lancer, Oh who would not sleep with the brave?
In valleys green and still Where lovers wander maying They hear from over hill A music playing. Behind the drum and fife, Past hawthornwood and hollow, Through earth and out of life The soldiers follow. The soldier's is the trade: In any wind or weather He steals the heart of maid And man together. The lover and his lass Beneath the hawthorn lying Have heard the soldiers pass, And both are sighing. And down the distance they With dying note and swelling Walk the resounding way To the still dwelling.
Soldier from the wars returning, Spoiler of the taken town, Here is ease that asks not earning; Turn you in and sit you down. Peace is come and wars are over, Welcome you and welcome all, While the charger crops the clover And his bridle hangs in stall. Now no more of winters biting Filth in trench from fall to spring, Summers full of sweat and fighting For the Kesar or the King. Rest you, charger, rust you, bridle; Kings and Kesars, keep your pay; Soldier, sit you down and idle At the inn of night for aye.
The chestnut casts his flambeaux, and the flowers Stream from the hawthorn on the wind away, The doors clap to, the pane is blind with showers. Pass me the can, lad; there's an end of May. There's one spoilt spring to scant our mortal lot, One season ruined of our little store. May will be fine next year as like as not: Oh ay, but then we shall be twenty-four. We for a certainty are not the first Have sat in taverns while the tempest hurled Their hopeful plans to emptiness, and cursed Whatever brute and blackguard made the world. It is in truth iniquity on high To cheat our sentenced souls of aught they crave, And mar the merriment as you and I Fare on our long fool's-errand to the grave. Iniquity it is; but pass the can. My lad, no pair of kings our mothers bore; Our only portion is the estate of man: We want the moon, but we shall get no more. If here to-day the cloud of thunder lours To-morrow it will hie on far behests; The flesh will grieve on other bones than ours Soon, and the soul will mourn in other breasts. The troubles of our proud and angry dust Are from eternity, and shall not fail. Bear them we can, and if we can we must. Shoulder the sky, my lad, and drink your ale.
Could man be drunk for ever With liquor, love, or fights, Lief should I rouse at morning And lief lie down at nights. But men at whiles are sober And think by fits and starts, And if they think, they fasten Their hands upon their hearts.
Yonder see the morning blink: The sun is up, and up must I, To wash and dress and eat and drink And look at things and talk and think And work, and God knows why. Oh often have I washed and dressed And what's to show for all my pain? Let me lie abed and rest: Ten thousand times I've done my best And all's to do again.
The laws of God, the laws of man, He may keep that will and can; Not I: let God and man decree Laws for themselves and not for me; And if my ways are not as theirs Let them mind their own affairs. Their deeds I judge and much condemn, Yet when did I make laws for them? Please yourselves, say I, and they Need only look the other way. But no, they will not; they must still Wrest their neighbour to their will, And make me dance as they desire With jail and gallows and hell-fire. And how am I to face the odds Of man's bedevilment and God's? I, a stranger and afraid In a world I never made. They will be master, right or wrong; Though both are foolish, both are strong. And since, my soul, we cannot fly To Saturn nor to Mercury, Keep we must, if keep we can, These foreign laws of God and man.
`What sound awakened me, I wonder, For now 'tis dumb.' `Wheels on the road most like, or thunder: Lie down; 'twas not the drum.' Toil at sea and two in haven And trouble far; Fly, crow, away, and follow, raven, And all that croaks for war. `Hark, I heard the bugle crying, And where am I? My friends are up and dressed and dying, And I will dress and die.' `Oh love is rare and trouble plenty And carrion cheap, And daylight dear at four-and-twenty: Lie down again and sleep.' `Reach me my belt and leave your prattle: Your hour is gone; But my day is the day of battle, And that comes dawning on. `They mow the field of man in season: Farewell, my fair, And, call it truth or call it treason, Farewell the vows that were.' `Ay, false heart, forsake me lightly: 'Tis like the brave. They find no bed to joy in rightly Before they find the grave. `Their love is for their own undoing, And east and west They scour about the world a-wooing The bullet to their breast. `Sail away the ocean over, Oh sail away, And lie there with your leaden lover For ever and a day.'
The night my father got me His mind was not on me; He did not plague his fancy To muse if I should be The son you see. The day my mother bore me She was a fool and glad, For all the pain I cost her, That she had borne the lad That borne she had. My mother and my father Out of the light they lie; The warrant would not find them, And here 'tis only I Shall hang so high. Oh let not man remember The soul that God forgot But fetch the county kerchief And noose me in the knot And I will rot. For so the game is ended That should not have begun. My father and my mother They had a likely son, And I have none.
He stood, and heard the steeple Sprinkle the quarters on the morning town. One, two, three, four, to market-place and people It tossed them down. Strapped, noosed, nighing his hour, He stood and counted them and cursed his luck; And then the clock collected in the tower Its strength, and struck.
Star and coronal and bell April underfoot renews, And the hope of man as well Flowers among the morning dews. Now the old come out to look, Winter past and winter's pains, How the sky in pool and brook Glitters on the grassy plains. Easily the gentle air Wafts the turning season on; Things to comfort them are there, Though 'tis true the best are gone. Now the scorned unlucky lad Rousing from his pillow gnawn Mans his heart and deep and glad Drinks the valiant air of dawn. Half the night he longed to die, Now are sown on hill and plain Pleasures worth his while to try Ere he longs to die again. Blue the sky from east to west Arches, and the world is wide, Though the girl he loves the best Rouses from another's side.
The Wain upon the northern steep Descends and lifts away. Oh I will sit me down and weep For bones in Africa. For pay and medals, name and rank, Things that he has not found, He hove the Cross to heaven and sank The pole-star underground. And now he does not even see Signs of the nadir roll At night over the ground where he Is buried with the pole.
The rain, it streams on stone and hillock, The boot clings to the clay. Since all is done that's due and right Let's home; and now, my lad, good-night, For I must turn away. Good-night, my lad, for nought's eternal; No league of ours, for sure. To-morrow I shall miss you less, And ache of heart and heaviness Are things that time should cure. Over the hill the highway marches And what's beyond is wide: Oh soon enough will pine to nought Remembrance and the faithful thought That sits the grave beside. The skies, they are not always raining Nor grey the twelvemonth through; And I shall meet good days and mirth, And range the lovely lands of earth With friends no worse than you. But oh, my man, the house is fallen That none can build again; My man, how full of joy and woe Your mother bore you years ago To-night to lie in the rain.
In midnights of November, When Dead Man's Fair is nigh, And danger in the valley, And anger in the sky, Around the huddling homesteads The leafless timber roars, And the dead call the dying And finger at the doors. Oh, yonder faltering fingers Are hands I used to hold; Their false companion drowses And leaves them in the cold. Oh, to the bed of ocean, To Africk and to Ind, I will arise and follow Along the rainy wind. The night goes out and under With all its train forlorn; Hues in the east assemble And cocks crow up the morn. The living are the living And dead the dead will stay, And I will sort with comrades That face the beam of day.
The night is freezing fast, To-morrow comes December; And winterfalls of old Are with me from the past; And chiefly I remember How Dick would hate the cold. Fall, winter, fall; for he, Prompt hand and headpiece clever, Has woven a winter robe, And made of earth and sea His overcoat for ever, And wears the turning globe.
The fairies break their dances And leave the printed lawn, And up from India glances The silver sail of dawn. The candles burn their sockets, The blinds let through the day, The young man feels his pockets And wonders what's to pay.
The sloe was lost in flower, The April elm was dim; That was the lover's hour, The hour for lies and him. If thorns are all the bower, If north winds freeze the fir, Why, 'tis another's hour, The hour for truth and her.
In the morning, in the morning, In the happy field of hay, Oh they looked at one another By the light of day. In the blue and silver morning On the haycock as they lay, Oh they looked at one another And they looked away.
He is here, Urania's son, Hymen come from Helicon; God that glads the lover's heart, He is here to join and part. So the groomsman quits your side And the bridegroom seeks the bride: Friend and comrade yield you o'er To her that hardly loves you more. Now the sun his skyward beam Has tilted from the Ocean stream. Light the Indies, laggard sun: Happy bridegroom, day is done, And the star from Œta's steep Calls to bed but not to sleep. Happy bridegroom, Hesper brings All desired and timely things. All whom morning sends to roam, Hesper loves to lead them home. Home return who him behold, Child to mother, sheep to fold, Bird to nest from wandering wide: Happy bridegroom, seek your bride. Pour it out, the golden cup Given and guarded, brimming up, Safe through jostling markets borne And the thicket of the thorn; Folly spurned and danger past, Pour it to the god at last. Now, to smother noise and light Is stolen abroad the wildering night, And the blotting shades confuse Path and meadow full of dews; And the high heavens, that all control, Turn in silence round the pole. Catch the starry beams they shed Prospering the married bed, And breed the land that reared your prime Sons to stay the rot of time. All is quiet, no alarms; Nothing fear of nightly harms. Safe you sleep on guarded ground, And in silent circle round The thoughts of friends keep watch and ward, Harnessed angels, hand on sword.
'Tis mute, the word they went to hear on high Dodona mountain When winds were in the oakenshaws and all the cauldrons tolled, And mute's the midland navel-stone beside the singing fountain, And echoes list to silence now where gods told lies of old. I took my question to the shrine that has not ceased from speaking, The heart within, that tells the truth and tells it twice as plain; And from the cave of oracles I heard the priestess shrieking That she and I should surely die and never live again. Oh priestess, what you cry is clear, and sound good sense I think it; But let the screaming echoes rest, and froth your mouth no more. 'Tis true there's better boose than brine, but he that drowns must drink it; And oh, my lass, the news is news that men have heard before. The King with half the East at heel is marched from lands of morning; Their fighters drink the rivers up, their shafts benight the air, And he that stands will die for nought, and home there's no returning. The Spartans on the sea-wet rock sat down and combed their hair.
The half-moon westers low, my love, And the wind brings up the rain; And wide apart lie we, my love, And seas between the twain. I know not if it rains, my love, In the land where you do lie; And oh, so sound you sleep, my love, You know no more than I.
The sigh that heaves the grasses Whence thou wilt never rise Is of the air that passes And knows not if it sighs. The diamond tears adorning Thy low mound on the lea, Those are the tears of morning, That weeps, but not for thee.
Now dreary dawns the eastern light, And fall of eve is drear, And cold the poor man lies at night, And so goes out the year. Little is the luck I've had, And oh, 'tis comfort small To think that many another lad Has had no luck at all.
Wake not for the world-heard thunder Not the chime that earthquakes toll. Star may plot in heaven with planet, Lightning rive the rock of granite, Tempest tread the oakwood under: Fear you not for flesh nor soul. Marching, fighting, victory past, Stretch your limbs in peace at last. Stir not for the soldiers drilling Nor the fever nothing cures: Throb of drum and timbal's rattle Call but man alive to battle, And the fife with death-notes filling Screams for blood but not for yours. Times enough you bled your best; Sleep on now, and take your rest. Sleep, my lad; the French are landed, London's burning, Windsor's down; Clasp your cloak of earth about you, We must man the ditch without you, March unled and fight short-handed, Charge to fall and swim to drown. Duty, friendship, bravery o'er, Sleep away, lad; wake no more.
I walked alone and thinking, And faint the night wind blew And stirred on mounds at crossways The flower of sinner's rue. Where the roads part they bury Him that his own hand slays, And so the weed of sorrow Springs at the four cross ways. By night I plucked it hueless, When morning broke 'twas blue: Blue at my breast I fastened The flower of sinner's rue. It seemed a herb of healing, A balsam and a sign, Flower of a heart whose trouble Must have been worse than mine. Dead clay that did me kindness, I can do none to you, But only wear for breastknot The flower of sinner's rue.
Onward led the road again Through the sad uncoloured plain Under twilight brooding dim, And along the utmost rim Wall and rampart risen to sight Cast a shadow not of night, And beyond them seemed to glow Bonfires lighted long ago. And my dark conductor broke Silence at my side and spoke, Saying, `You conjecture well: Yonder is the gate of hell.' Ill as yet the eye could see The eternal masonry, But beneath it on the dark To and fro there stirred a spark. And again the sombre guide Knew my question, and replied: `At hell gate the damned in turn Pace for sentinel and burn.' Dully at the leaden sky Staring, and with idle eye Measuring the listless plain, I began to think again. Many things I thought of then, Battle, and the loves of men, Cities entered, oceans crossed, Knowledge gained and virtue lost, Cureless folly done and said, And the lovely way that led To the slimepit and the mire And the everlasting fire. And against a smoulder dun And a dawn without a sun Did the nearing bastion loom, And across the gate of gloom Still one saw the sentry go, Trim and burning, to and fro, One for women to admire In his finery of fire. Something, as I watched him pace, Minded me of time and place, Soldiers of another corps And a sentry known before. Ever darker hell on high Reared its strength upon the sky, And our footfall on the track Fetched the daunting echo back. But the soldier pacing still The insuperable sill, Nursing his tormented pride, Turned his head to neither side, Sunk into himself apart And the hell-fire of his heart. But against our entering in From the drawbridge Death and Sun Rose to render key and sword To their father and their lord. And the portress foul to see Lifted up her eyes on me, Smiling, and I made reply: `Met again, my lass,' said I. Then the sentry turned his head, Looked, and knew me, and was Ned. Once he looked, and halted straight, Set his back against the gate, Caught his musket to his chin, While the hive of hell within Sent abroad a seething hum As of towns whose king is come Leading conquest home from far And the captives of his war, And the car of triumph waits, And they open wide the gates. But across the entry barred Straddled the revolted guard, Weaponed and accoutred well From the arsenals of hell; And beside him, sick and white, Sin to left and Death to right Turned a countenance of fear On the flaming mutineer. Over us the darkness bowed, And the anger in the cloud Clenched the lightning for the stroke; But the traitor musket spoke. And the hollowness of hell Sounded as its master fell, And the mourning echo rolled Ruin through his kingdom old. Tyranny and terror flown Left a pair of friends alone, And beneath the nether sky All that stirred was he and I. Silent, nothing found to say, We began the backward way; And the ebbing lustre died From the soldier at my side, As in all his spruce attire Failed the everlasting fire. Midmost of the homeward track Once we listened and looked back; But the city, dusk and mute, Slept, and there was no pursuit.
When I would muse in boyhood The wild green woods among, And nurse resolves and fancies Because the world was young, It was not foes to conquer, Nor sweethearts to be kind, But it was friends to die for That I would seek and find. I sought them and I found them, The sure, the straight, the brave, The hearts I lost my own to, The souls I could not save. They braced their belts around them, They crossed in ships the sea, They sought and found six feet of ground, And there they died for me.
When the eye of day is shut, And the stars deny their beams, And about the forest hut Blows the roaring wood of dreams, From deep clay, from desert rock, From the sunk sands of the main, Come not at my door to knock, Hearts that loved me not again. Sleep, be still, turn to your rest In the lands where you are laid; In far lodgings east and west Lie down on the beds you made. In gross marl, in blowing dust, In the drowned ooze of the sea, Where you would not, lie you must, Lie you must, and not with me.
The orchards half the way From home to Ludlow fair Flowered on the first of May In Mays when I was there; And seen from stile or turning The plume of smoke would show Where fires were burning That went out long ago. The plum broke forth in green, The pear stood high and snowed, My friends and I between Would take the Ludlow road; Dressed to the nines and drinking And light in heart and limb, And each chap thinking The fair was held for him. Between the trees in flower New friends at fairtime tread The way where Ludlow tower Stands planted on the dead. Our thoughts, a long while after, They think, our words they say; Theirs now's the laughter, The fair, the first of May. Ay, yonder lads are yet The fools that we were then; For oh, the sons we get Are still the sons of men. The sumless tale of sorrow Is all unrolled in vain: May comes to-morrow And Ludlow fair again.
When first my way to fair I took Few pence in purse had I, And long I used to stand and look At things I could not buy. Now times are altered: if I care To buy a thing, I can; The pence are here and here's the fair, But where's the lost young man? -- To think that two and two are four And neither five nor three The heart of man has long been sore And long 'tis like to be.
West and away the wheels of darkness roll, Day's beamy banner up the east is borne, Spectres and fears, the nightmare and her foal, Drown in the golden deluge of the morn. But over sea and continent from sight Safe to the Indies has the earth conveyed The vast and moon-eclipsing cone of night, Her towering foolscap of eternal shade. See, in mid heaven the sun is mounted; hark, The belfries tingle to the noonday chime. 'Tis silent, and the subterranean dark Has crossed the nadir, and begins to climb.
These, in the day when heaven was falling, The hour when Earth's foundations fled, Followed their mercenary calling And took their wages and are dead. Their shoulders held the sky suspended; They stood, and earth's foundations stay; What God abandoned, these defended, And saved the sum of things for pay.
Oh stay at home, my lad, and plough The land and not the sea, And leave the soldiers at their drill, And all about the idle hill Shepherd your sheep with me. Oh stay with company and mirth And daylight and the air; Too full already is the grave Of fellows that were good and brave And died because they were.
When summer's end is nighing And skies at evening cloud, I muse on change and fortune And all the feats I vowed When I was young and proud. The weathercock at sunset Would lose the slanted ray, And I would climb the beacon That looked to Wales away And saw the last of day. From hill and cloud and heaven The hues of evening died; Night welled through lane and hollow And hushed the countryside, But I had youth and pride. And I with earth and nightfall In converse high would stand, Late, till the west was ashen And darkness hard at hand, And the eye lost the land. The year might age, and cloudy The lessening day might close, But air of other summers Breathed from beyond the snows, And I had hope of those. They came and were and are not And come no more anew; And all the years and seasons That ever can ensue Must now be worse and few. So here's an end of roaming On eves when autumn nighs: The ear too fondly listens For summer's parting sighs, And then the heart replies.
Tell me not here, it needs not saying, What tune the enchantress plays In aftermaths of soft September Or under blanching mays, For she and I were long acquainted And I knew all her ways. On russet floors, by waters idle, The pine lets fall its cone; The cuckoo shouts all day at nothing In leafy dells alone; And traveller's joy beguiles in autumn Hearts that have lost their own. On acres of the seeded grasses The changing burnish heaves; Or marshalled under moons of harvest Stand still all night the sheaves; Or beeches strip in storms for winter And stain the wind with leaves. Possess, as I possessed a season, The countries I resign, Where over elmy plains the highway Would mount the hills and shine, And full of shade the pillared forest Would murmur and be mine. For nature, heartless, witless nature, Will neither care nor know What stranger's feet may find the meadow And trespass there and go, Nor ask amid the dews of morning If they are mine or no.
When lads were home from labour At Abdon under Clee, A man would call his neighbour And both would send for me. And where the light in lances Across the mead was laid, There to the dances, I fetched my flute and played. Ours were idle pleasures, Yet oh, content we were, The young to wind the measures, The old to heed the air; And I to lift with playing From tree and tower and steep The light delaying, And flute the sun to sleep. The youth toward his fancy, Would turn his brow of tan, And Tom would pair with Nancy And Dick step off with Fan; The girl would lift her glances To his, and both be mute: Well went the dances At evening to the flute. Wenlock Edge was umbered, And bright was Abdon Burf, And warm between them slumbered The smooth green miles of turf; Until from grass and clover The upshot beam would fade, And England over Advanced the lofty shade. The lofty shade advances, I fetch my flute and play: Come, lads, and learn the dances And praise the tune to-day. To-morrow, more's the pity, Away we both must hie, To air the ditty, And to earth I.
They say my verse is sad: no wonder; Its narrow measure spans Tears of eternity, and sorrow, Not mine, but man's. This is for all ill-treated fellows Unborn and unbegot, For them to read when they're in trouble And I am not.
If in that Syrian garden, ages slain, You sleep, and know not you are dead in vain, Nor even in dreams behold how dark and bright Ascends in smoke and fire by day and night The hate you died to quench and could but fan, Sleep well and see no morning, son of man. But if, the grave rent and the stone rolled by, At the right hand of majesty on high You sit, and sitting so remember yet Your tears, your agony and bloody sweat, Your cross and passion and the life you gave, Bow hither out of heaven and see and save.
When Israel out of Egypt came Safe in the sea they trod; By day in cloud, by night in flame, Went on before them God. He brought them with a stretched out hand Dry-footed through the foam, Past sword and famine, rock and sand, Lust and rebellion, home. I never over Horeb heard The blast of advent blow; No fire-faced prophet brought me word Which way behoved me go. Ascended is the cloudy flame, The mount of thunder dumb; The tokens that to Israel came, To me they have not come. I see the country far away Where I shall never stand; The heart goes where no footstep may Into the promised land. The realm I look upon and die Another man will own; He shall attain the heaven that I Perish and have not known. But I will go where they are hid That never were begot, To my inheritance amid The nation that is not.
For these of old the trader Unpearled the Indian seas, The nations of the nadir Were diamondless for these; A people prone and haggard Beheld their lightnings hurled: All round, like Sinai, staggered The sceptre-shaken world. But now their coins are tarnished, Their towers decayed away, Their kingdom swept and garnished For haler kings than they; Their arms the rust hath eaten, Their statutes none regard: Arabia shall not sweeten Their dust, with all her nard. They cease from long vexation, Their nights, their days are done, The pale, the perished nation That never see the sun; From the old deep-dusted annals The years erase their tale, And round them race the channels That take no second sail.
O youth whose heart is right, Whose loins are girt to gain The hell-defended height Where Virtue beckons plain; Who seest the stark array And hast not stayed to count But singly wilt assay The many-cannoned mount: Well is thy war begun; Endure, be strong and strive; But think not, O my son, To save thy soul alive. Wilt thou be true and just And clean and kind and brave? Well; but for all thou dost, Be sure it shall not save. Thou, when the night falls deep, Thou, though the mount be won, High heart, thou shalt but sleep The sleep denied to none. Others, or ever thou, To scale those heights were sworn; And some achieved, but now They never see the morn. How shouldst thou keep the prize? Thou wast not born for aye. Content thee if thine eyes Behold it in thy day. O youth that wilt attain, On, for thine hour is short. It may be thou shalt gain The hell-defended fort.
The snows are fled away, leaves on the shaws And grasses in the mead renew their birth, The river to the river-bed withdraws, And altered is the fashion of the earth. The Nymphs and Graces three put off their fear And unapparelled in the woodland play. The swift hour and the brief prime of the year Say to the soul, Thou wast not born for aye. Thaw follows frost; hard on the heel of spring Treads summer sure to die, for hard on hers Comes autumn, with his apples scattering; Then back to wintertide, when nothing stirs. But oh, whate'er the sky-led seasons mar, Moon upon moon rebuilds it with her beams: Come we where Tullus and where Ancus are, And good Aeneas, we are dust and dreams. Torquatus, if the gods in heaven shall add The morrow to the day, what tongue has told? Feast then thy heart, for what thy heart has had The fingers of no heir will ever hold. When thou descendest once the shades among, The stern assize and equal judgment o'er, Not thy long lineage nor thy golden tongue, No, nor thy righteousness, shall friend thee more. Night holds Hippolytus the pure of stain, Diana steads him nothing, he must stay; And Theseus leaves Pirithoüs in the chain The love of comrades cannot take away.
I to my perils Of cheat and charmer Came clad in armour By stars benign. Hope lies to mortals And most believe her But man's deceiver Was never mine. The thoughts of others Were light and fleeting, Of lovers' meeting Or luck or fame. Mine were of trouble, And mine were steady, So I was ready When trouble came.
Stars, I have seen them fall, But when they drop and die No star is lost at all From all the star-sown sky. The toil of all that be Helps not the primal fault; It rains into the sea, And still the sea is salt.
Give me a land of boughs in leaf, A land of trees that stand; Where trees are fallen, there is grief; I love no leafless land. Alas, the country whence I fare, It is where I would stay; And where I would not, it is there That I shall be for aye. And one remembers and forgets But 'tis not found again, Not though they hale in crimsoned nets The sunset from the main.
When green buds hang in the elm like dust And sprinkle the lime like rain, Forth I wander, forth I must, And drink of life again. Forth I must by hedgerow bowers To look at the leaves uncurled, And stand in the fields where cuckoo-flowers Are lying about the world.
The weeping Pleiads wester, And the moon is under sea; From bourn to bourn of midnight Far sighs the rainy breeze: It sighs from a lost country To a land I have not known; The weeping Pleiads wester, And I lie down alone.
The rainy Pleiads wester, Orion plunges prone, The stroke of midnight ceases, And I lie down alone. The rainy Pleiads wester And seek beyond the sea The head that I shall dream of, And 'twill not dream of me.
I promise nothing: friends will part; All things may end, for all began; And truth and singleness of heart Are mortal even as is man. But this unlucky love should last When answered passions thin to air; Eternal fate so deep has cast Its sure foundation of despair.
I lay me down and slumber And every morn revive. Whose is the night-long breathing That keeps a man alive? When I was off to dreamland And left my limbs forgot, Who stayed at home to mind them, And breathed when I did not? ... -- I waste my time in talking, No heed at all takes he, My kind and foolish comrade That breathes all night for me.
The farms of home lie lost in even, I see far off the steeple stand; West and away from here to heaven Still is the land. There if I go no girl will greet me, No comrade hollo from the hill, No dog run down the yard to meet me: The land is still. The land is still by farm and steeple, And still for me the land may stay: There I was friends with perished people, And there lie they.
Tarry, delight, so seldom met, So sure to perish, tarry still; Forbear to cease or languish yet, Though soon you must and will. By Sestos town, in Hero's tower, On Hero's heart Leander lies; The signal torch has burned its hour And sputters as it dies. Beneath him, in the nighted firth, Between two continents complain The seas he swam from earth to earth And he must swim again.
How clear, how lovely bright, How beautiful to sight Those beams of morning play; How heaven laughs out with glee Where, like a bird set free, Up from the eastern sea Soars the delightful day. To-day I shall be strong, No more shall yield to wrong, Shall squander life no more; Days lost, I know not how, I shall retrieve them now; Now I shall keep the vow I never kept before. Ensanguining the skies How heavily it dies Into the west away; Past touch and sight and sound Not further to be found, How hopeless under ground Falls the remorseful day.
Bells in tower at evening toll, And the day forsakes the soul; Soon will evening's self be gone And the whispering night come on. Blame not thou the blinded light Nor the whisper of the night: Though the whispering night were still, Yet the heart would counsel ill.
Delight it is in youth and May To see the morn arise, And more delight to look all day A lover in the eyes. Oh maiden, let your distaff be, And pace the flowery meads with me, And I will tell you lies. 'Tis blithe to see the sunshine fail, And hear the land grow still And listen till the nightingale Is heard beneath the hill. Oh follow me where she is flown Into the leafy woods alone, And I will work you ill.
The mill-stream, now that noises cease, Is all that does not hold its peace; Under the bridge it murmurs by, And here are night and hell and I. Who made the world I cannot tell; 'Tis made, and here I am in hell. My hand, though now my knuckles bleed, I never soiled with such a deed. And so, no doubt, in time gone by, Some have suffered more than I, Who only spend the night alone And strike my fist upon the stone.
Like mine, the veins of these that slumber Leapt once with dancing fires divine; The blood of all this noteless number Ran red like mine. How still, with every pulse in station, Frost in the founts that used to leap, The put to death, the perished nation, How sound they sleep! These too, these veins which life convulses, Wait but a while, shall cease to bound; I with the ice in all my pulses Shall sleep as sound.
The world goes none the lamer For ought that I can see, Because this cursed trouble Has struck my days and me. The stars of heaven are steady, The founded hills remain, Though I to earth and darkness Return in blood and pain. Farewell to all belongings I won or bought or stole; Farewell, my lusty carcase, Farewell, my aery soul. Oh worse remains for others And worse to fear had I Than here at four-and-twenty To lay me down and die.
Ho, everyone that thirsteth And hath the price to give, Come to the stolen waters, Drink and your soul shall live. Come to the stolen waters, And leap the guarded pale, And pull the flower in season Before desire shall fail. It shall not last for ever, No more than earth and skies; But he that drinks in season Shall live before he dies. June suns, you cannot store them To warm the winter's cold, The lad that hopes for heaven Shall fill his mouth with mould.
Crossing alone the nighted ferry With the one coin for fee, Whom, on the wharf of Lethe waiting, Count you to find? Not me. The brisk fond lackey to fetch and carry, The true, sick-hearted slave, Expect him not in the just city And free land of the grave.
Stone, steel, dominions pass, Faith, too, no wonder; So leave alone the grass That I am under. All knots that lovers tie Are tied to sever; Here shall your sweetheart lie, Untrue for ever.
Yon flakes that fret the eastern sky Lead back my day of birth; The far, wide-wandered hour when I Came crying upon earth. Then came I crying, and to-day, With heavier cause to plain, Depart I into death away, Not to be born again.
Good creatures, do you love your lives And have you ears for sense? Here is a knife like other knives, That cost me eighteen pence. I need but stick it in my heart And down will come the sky, And earth's foundations will depart And all you folk will die.
To stand up straight and tread the turning mill, To lie flat and known nothing and be still, Are the two trades of man; and which is worse I know not, but I know that both are ill.
He, standing hushed, a pace or two apart, Among the bluebells of the listless plain, Thinks, and remembers how he cleansed his heart And washed his hands in innocence in vain.
From the wash the laundress sends My collars home with ravelled ends: I must fit, now these are frayed, My neck with new ones London-made. Homespun collars, homespun hearts, Wear to rags in foreign parts. Mine at least's as good as done, And I must get a London one.
Shake hands, we shall never be friends, all's over; I only vex you the more I try. All's wrong that ever I've done or said, And nought to help it in this dull head: Shake hands, here's luck, good-bye. But if you come to a road where danger Or guilt or anguish or shame's to share, Be good to the lad that loves you true And the soul that was born to die for you, And whistle and I'll be there.
Because I liked you better Than suits a man to say, It irked you, and I promised To throw the thought away. To put the world between us We parted, stiff and dry; `Good-bye,' said you, `forget me.' `I will, no fear', said I. If here, where clover whitens The dead man's knoll, you pass, And no tall flower to meet you Starts in the trefoiled grass, Halt by the headstone naming The heart no longer stirred, And say the lad that loved you Was one that kept his word.
With seed the sowers scatter The furrows as they go; Poor lads, 'tis little matter How many sorts they sow, For only one will grow. The charlock on the fallow Will take the traveller's eyes, And gild the ploughland sallow With flowers before it dies. But twice 'twill not arise. The stinging nettle only Will still be found to stand: The numberless, the lonely, The thronger of the land, The leaf that hurts the hand. It thrives, come sun, come showers, Blow east, blow west, it springs; It peoples towns, and towers About the courts of Kings, And touch it and it stings.
On forelands high in heaven, 'Tis many a year gone by, Amidst the fall of even Would stand my friends and I. Before our foolish faces Lay lands we did not see; Our eyes were in the places Where we should never be. `Oh, the pearl seas are yonder, The amber-sanded short; Shires where the girls are fonder, Towns where the pots hold more. And here fret we and moulder By grange and rick and shed And every moon are older, And soon we shall be dead.' Heigho, 'twas true and pity; But there we lads must stay. Troy was a steepled city, But Troy was far away. And round we turned lamenting To homes we longed to leave, And silent hills indenting The orange band of eve. I see the air benighted And all the dusking dales, And lamps in England lighted, And evening wrecked on Wales; And starry darkness paces The road from sea to sea, And blots the foolish faces Of my poor friends and me.
Young is the blood that yonder Strides out the dusty mile, And breasts the hillside highway And whistles loud the while, And vaults the stile. Yet flesh, now too, has thorn-pricks, And shoulders carry care, Even as in other seasons, When I and not my heir Was young and there. On miry meads in winter The football sprang and fell; May stuck the land with wickets: For all the eye could tell, The world went well. Yet well, God knows, it went not, God knows, it went awry; For me, one flowery Maytime, It went so ill that I Designed to die. And if so long I carry The lot that season marred, 'Tis that the sons of Adam Are not so evil-starred As they are hard. Young is the blood that yonder Succeeds to rick and fold, Fresh are the form and favour And new the minted mould: The thoughts are old.
Half-way, for one commandment broken, The woman made her endless halt, And she to-day, a glistering token, Stands in the wilderness of salt. Behind, the vats of judgment brewing Thundered, and thick the brimstone snowed; He to the hill of his undoing Pursued his road.
Here dead lie we because we did not choose To live and shame the land from which we sprung. Life, to be sure, is nothing much to lose; But young men think it is, and we were young.
I did not lose my heart in summer's even, When roses to the moonrise burst apart: When plumes were under heel and lead was flying, In blood and smoke and flame I lost my heart. I lost it to a soldier and a foeman, A chap that did not kill me, but he tried; That took the sabre straight, and took it striking And laughed and kissed his hand to me and died.
By shores and woods and steeples Rejoicing hearts receive Poured on a hundred peoples The far-shed alms of eve. Her hands are filled with slumber For world-wide labourers worn; Yet those are more in number That know her not from morn. Now who sees night for ever, He sees no happier sight: Night and no moon and never A star upon the night.
My dreams are of a field afar And blood and smoke and shot. There in their graves my comrades are, In my grave I am not. I too was taught the trade of man And spelt the lesson plain; But they, when I forgot and ran, Remembered and remain.
Farewell to a name and a number Recalled again To darkness and silence and slumber In blood and pain. So ceases and turns to the thing He was born to be A soldier cheap to the King And dear to me; So smothers in blood the burning And flaming flight Of valour and truth returning To dust and night.
He looked at me with eyes I thought I was not like to find, The voice he begged for pence with brought Another man to mind. Oh no, lad, never touch your cap; It is not my half-crown: You have it from a better chap That long ago lay down. Turn east and over Thames to Kent And come to the sea's brim, And find his everlasting tent And touch your cap to him.
When he's returned I'll tell him -- oh, Dear fellow, I forgot: Time was you would have cared to know, But now it matters not. I mourn you, and you heed not how; Unsaid the word must stay; Last month was time enough, but now The news must keep for aye. Oh, many a month before I learn Will find me starting still And listening, as the days return, For him that never will. Strange, strange to think his blood is cold And mine flows easy on: And that straight look, that heart of gold, That grace, that manhood gone. The word unsaid will stay unsaid Though there was much to say; Last month was time enough: he's dead, The news must keep for aye.
I wake from dreams and turning My vision on the height I scan the beacons burning About the fields of night. Each in its stedfast station Inflaming heaven they flare; They sign with conflagration The empty moors of air. The signal-fires of warning They blaze, but none regard; And on through night to morning The world runs ruinward.
Far known to sea and shore, Foursquare and founded well, A thousand years it bore, And then the belfry fell. The steersman of Triest Looked where his mark should be, But empty was the west And Venice under sea. From dusty wreck dispersed Its stature mounts amain; On surer foot than first The belfry stands again. At to-fall of the day Again its curfew tolls And burdens far away The green and sanguine shoals. It looks to north and south, It looks to east and west; It guides to Lido mouth The steersman of Triest. Andrea, fare you well; Venice, farewell to thee. The tower that stood and fell Is not rebuilt in me.
Smooth between sea and land Is laid the yellow sand, And here through summer days The seed of Adam plays. Here the child comes to found His unremaining mound, And the grown lad to score Two names upon the shore. Here, on the level sand, Between the sea and land, What shall I build or write Against the fall of night? Tell me of runes to grave That hold the bursting wave, Or bastions to design For longer date than mine. Shall it be Troy or Rome I fence against the foam, Or my own name, to stay When I depart for aye? Nothing: too near at hand, Planing the figure sand, Effacing clean and fast Cities not built to last And charms devised in vain, Pours the confounding main.
Hearken, landsmen, hearken, seamen, to the tale of grief and me, Looking from the land of Biscay on the waters of the sea. Looking from the land of Biscay over Ocean to the sky On the far-beholding foreland paced at even grief and I. There, as warm the west was burning and the east uncoloured cold, Down the waterway of sunset drove to shore a ship of gold. Gold of mast and gold of cordage, gold of sail to sight was she, And she glassed her ensign golden in the waters of the sea. Oh, said I, my friend and lover, take we now that ship and sail Outward in the ebb of hues and steer upon the sunset trail; Leave the night to fall behind us and the clouding counties leave: Help for you and me is yonder, in a haven west of eve. Under hill she neared the harbour till the gazer could behold On the golden deck the steersman standing at the helm of gold, Man and ship and sky and water burning in a single flame; And the mariner of Ocean, he was calling as he came: From the highway of the sunset he was shouting on the sea, `Landsman of the land of Biscay, have you help for grief and me?' When I heard I did not answer, I stood mute and shook my heat: Son of earth and son of Ocean, much we thought and nothing said. Grief and I abode the nightfall, to the sunset grief and he Turned them from the land of Biscay on the waters of the sea.
O thou that from thy mansion Through time and place to roam, Dost send abroad thy children, And then dost call them home, That men and tribes and nations And all thy hand hath made May shelter them from sunshine In thine eternal shade: We now to peace and darkness And earth and thee restore Thy creature that thou madest And wilt cast forth no more.
Good-night; ensured release, Imperishable peace, Have these for yours, While sea abides, and land, And earth's foundations stand, And heaven endures. When earth's foundations flee, Nor sky nor land nor sea At all is found, Content you, let them burn: It is not your concern; Sleep on, sleep sound.
`Lydians, lords of Hermus river, Sifters of the golden loam, See you yet the lances quiver And the hunt returning home?' `King, the star that shuts the even Calls the sheep from Tmolus down; Home return the doves from heaving, And the prince to Sardis town.' From the hunting heavy laden Up the Mysian road they ride; And the star that mates the maiden Leads his son to Croesus' side. `Lydians, under stream and fountain Finders of the golden vein, Riding from Olympus mountain, Lydians, see you Atys plain?' `King, I see the Phrygian stranger And the guards in hunter's trim, Saviours of thy son from danger; Them I see. I see not him.' `Lydians, as the troop advances, -- It is eve and I am old -- Tell me why they trail their lances, Washers of the sands of gold. `I am old and day is ending And the wildering night comes on; Up the Mysian entry wending, Lydians, Lydians, what is yon?' Hounds behind their master whining, Huntsmen pacing dumb beside, On his breast the boar-spear shining, Home they bear his father's pride.
Oh were he and I together, Shipmates on the fleeted main, Sailing through the summer weather To the spoil of France or Spain. Oh were he and I together, Locking hands and taking leave, Low upon the trampled heather In the battle lost at eve. Now are he and I asunder And asunder to remain; Kingdoms are for others' plunder, And content for other slain.
When Adam walked in Eden young, Happy, 'tis writ, was he, While high the fruit of knowledge hung Unbitten on the tree. Happy was he the livelong day; I doubt 'tis written wrong: The heart of man, for all they say, Was never happy long. And now my feet are tired of rest, And here they will not stay, And the soul fevers in my breast And aches to be away.
It is no gift I tender, A loan is all I can; But do not scorn the lender; Man gets no more from man. Oh, mortal man may borrow What mortal man can lend; And 'twill not end to-morrow, Though sure enough 'twill end. If death and time are stronger, A love may yet be strong; The world will last for longer, But this will last for long.
Here are the skies, the planets seven, And all the starry train: Content you with the mimic heaven, And on the earth remain.
Ask me no more, for fear I should reply; Others have held their tongues, and so can I; Hundreds have died, and told no tale before: Ask me no more, for fear I should reply -- How one was true and one was clean of stain And one was braver than the heavens are high, And one was fond of me: and all are slain. Ask me no more, for fear I should reply.
He would not stay for me, and who can wonder? He would not stay for me to stand and gaze. I shook his hand, and tore my heart in sunder, And went with half my life about my ways.
Now to her lap the incestuous earth The son she bore has ta'en. And other sons she brings to birth But not my friend again.
When the bells justle in the tower The hollow night amid, Then on my tongue the taste is sour Of all I ever did.
Oh on my breast in days hereafter Light the earth should lie, Such weight to bear is now the air, So heavy hangs the sky.
Morning up the eastern stair Marches, azuring the air, And the foot of twilight still Is stolen toward the western sill. Blithe the maids go milking, blithe Men in hayfields stone the scythe; All the land's alive around Except the churchyard's idle ground. There's empty acres west and east, But aye 'tis God's that bears the least: This hopeless garden that they sow With the seeds that never grow
They shall have breath that never were, But he that was shall have it ne'er; The unconceived and unbegot Shall look on heaven, but he shall not. The heart with many wildfires lit, Ice is not so cold as it. The thirst that rivers could not lay A little dust has quenched for aye; And in a fathom's compass lie Thoughts much wider than the sky.
Stay, if you list, O passer by the way; Yet night approaches; better not to stay. I never sigh, nor flush, nor knit the brow, Nor grieve to think how ill God made me, now. Here, with one balm for many fevers found, Whole of an ancient evil, I sleep sound.
Oh turn not in from marching To taverns on the way. The drought and thirst and parching A little dust will lay, And take desire away. Oh waste no words a-wooing The soft sleep to your bed; She is not worth pursuing, You will so soon be dead; And death will serve instead.
`Oh is it the jar of nations, The noise of a world run mad, The fleeing of earth's foundations?' Yes, yes: lie quiet, my lad, `Oh is it my country calling, And whom will my country find To shore up the sky from falling?' My business: never you mind. `Oh is it the newsboys crying Lost battle, retreat, despair, And honour and England dying?' Well, fighting-cock, what if it were? The devil this side of the darnels Is having a dance with man, And quarrelsome chaps in charnels Must bear it as best they can.
'Tis five years since, `An end,' said I; `I'll march no further, time to die. All's lost; no worse has heaven to give.' Worse has it given, and yet I live. I shall not die to-day, no fear: I shall live yet for many a year, And see worse ills and worse again, And die of age and not of pain. When God would rear from earth aloof The blue height of the hollow roof, He sought him pillars sure and strong, And ere he found them sought them long. The stark steel splintered from the thrust, The basalt mountain sprang to dust, The blazing pier of diamond flawed In shards of rainbow all abroad. What found he, that the heavens stand fast? What pillar proven firm at last Bears up so light that world-seen span? The heart of man, the heart of man.
Some can gaze and not be sick, But I could never learn the trick. There's this to say for blood and breath, They give a man a taste for death.
The stars have not dealt me the worst they could do: My pleasures are plenty, my troubles are two. But oh, my two troubles they reave me of rest, The brains in my head and the heart in my breast. Oh grant me the ease that is granted so free, The birthright of multitudes, give it to me, That relish their victuals and rest on their bed With flint in the bosom and guts in the head.
Oh who is that young sinner with the handcuffs on his wrists? And what has he been after that they groan and shake their fists? And wherefore is he wearing such a conscience-stricken air? Oh they're taking him to prison for the colour of his hair. 'Tis a shame to human nature, such a head of hair as his; In the good old time 'twas hanging for the colour that it is; Though hanging isn't bad enough and flaying would be fair For the nameless and abominable colour of his hair. Oh a deal of pains he's taken and a pretty price he's paid To hide his poll or dye it of a mentionable shade; But they've pulled the beggar's hat off for the world to see and stare, And they're haling him to justice for the colour of his hair. Now 'tis oakum for his fingers and the treadmill for his feet And the quarry-gang on Portland in the cold and in the heat, And between his spells of labour in the time he has to spare He can curse the God that made him for the colour of his hair.
In battles of no renown My fellows and I fell down, And over the dead men roar The battles they lost before. The thunderstruck flagstaffs fall, The earthquake breaches the wall, The far-felled steeples resound, And we lie under the ground. Oh, soldiers, saluted afar By them that had seen your star, In conquest and freedom and pride Remember your friends that died. Amid rejoicing and song Remember, my lads, how long, How deep the innocent trod The grapes of the anger of God.
I shall not die for you, Another fellow may; Good lads are left and true Though one departs away. But he departs to-day And leaves his work to do, For I was luckless aye, And shall not die for you.
The end of the year fell chilly Between a moon and a moon; Through the twilight shrilly The bells rang, ringing no tune. The windows stained with story, The walls with miracle scored, Were hidden for gloom and glory Filling the house of the Lord. Arch and aisle and rafter And roof-tree dizzily high Were full of weeping and laughter And song and saying good-bye. There stood in the holy places A multitude none could name, Ranks of dreadful faces Flaming, transfigured in flame. Crown and tiar and mitre Were starry with gold and gem; Christmas never was whiter Than fear on the face of them. In aisles that emperors vaulted For a faith the world confessed, Abasing the Host exalted, They worshipped towards the west. They brought with laughter oblation; They prayed, not bowing the head; They made without tear lamentation, And rendered me answer and said: `O thou that seest our sorrow, It fares with us even thus: To-day we are gods, to-morrow Hell have mercy on us. `Lo, morning over our border From out of the west comes cold; Down ruins the ancient order And empire builded of old. `Our house at even is queenly With psalm and censers alight: Look thou never so keenly Thou shalt not find us to-night. `We are come to the end appointed With sands not many to run; Divinities disanointed And kings whose kingdom is done. `The peoples knelt down at our portal, All kindreds under the sky; We were gods and implored and immortal Once; and to-day we die.' They turned them again to their praying, They worshipped and took no rest, Singing old tunes and saying `We have seen his star in the west,' Old tunes of the sacred psalters, Set to wild farewells; And I left them there at their altars Ringing their own dead knells.
Home is the sailor, home from sea: Her far-borne canvas furled The ship pours shining on the quay The plunder of the world. Home is the hunter from the hill: Fast in the boundless snare All flesh lies taken at his will And every fowl of air. 'Tis evening on the moorland free, The starlit wave is still: Home is the sailor from the sea, The hunter from the hill.
The olive in its orchard Should now be rooted sure, To cast abroad its branches And flourish and endure. Aloft amid the trenches Its dressers dug and died The olive in its orchard Should prosper and abide. Close should the fruit be clustered And light the leaf should wave, So deep the root is planted In the corrupting grave.