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- A Shropshire Lad - 10/10 -


LVIII

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.

LIX

THE ISLE OF PORTLAND

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.

LX

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.

LXI

HUGHLEY STEEPLE

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.

LXII

"Terence, this is stupid stuff: You eat your victuals fast enough; There can't be 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 should 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 springs 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.

LXIII

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.


A Shropshire Lad - 10/10

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