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Alfred Edward Housman
|Oh, on my breast in days hereafter|
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.
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 left nor right:
In all the endless road you tread
There’s nothing but the night.
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 will die to-day.
EPITAPH ON ARMY OF MERCENARIES
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 miles around they ’ll say that I
And nothing will remain,
Am quite myself again.
On the idle hill of summer,
Sleepy with the flow of streams,
Far I hear the steady drummer
Drumming like a noise of 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 hollow,
High the screaming life replies,
Gay the files of scarlet follow:
Woman bore me, I will rise.
|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.|
INTO my heart on 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.
WHEN I came last to Ludlow
Amidst the moonlight pale,
Two friends kept step beside me,
Two honest lads 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.
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.
|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.|
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 hour,
The hour for truth and her.
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.
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.
© 2000 Elena and Yacov Feldman