[Be still, my soul, be still; the arms you bear are brittle]

A. E. Housman - 1859-1936

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? 

 

More by A. E. Housman

To An Athlete Dying Young

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 its 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.

A Shropshire Lad XL

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.

A Shropshire Lad, XIII

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.