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. E. Housman - 1859-1936
A Shropshire Lad, 1887
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.