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- A Shropshire Lad - 2/10 -


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.

V

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."

VI

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.

VII

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 tramping 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."

VIII

"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."

IX

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, [1] 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


A Shropshire Lad - 2/10

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