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
The Shropshire Lad, III
THE RECRUIT Leave your home behind, lad, And reach your friends your hand, And go, and luck go with you While Ludlow tower shall stand. Oh, come you home of Sunday While Ludlow streets are still And Ludlow bells are calling To farm and lane and mill, Or come you home of Monday When Ludlow market hums And Ludlow chimes are playing ‘The conquering hero comes’, Come you home a hero, Or come not home at all, The lads you leave will mind you Till Ludlow tower shall fall. And you will list the bugle That blows in lands of morn, And make the foes of England Be sorry you were born. And you till trump of doomsday On lands of morn may lie, And make the hearts of comrades Be heavy where you die. Leave your home behind you, Your friends by field and town: Oh, town and field will mind you Till Ludlow tower is down.