A Shropshire Lad, 1887

- 1859-1936
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 to-night:
    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.

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.