A Shropshire Lad, V

- 1859-1936
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.’

More by A. E. Housman

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.

A Shropshire Lad, XXXVI

White in the moon the long road lies,  
  The moon stands blank above;  
White in the moon the long road lies  
  That leads me from my love.  
  
Still hangs the hedge without a gust,
  Still, still the shadows stay:  
My feet upon the moonlit dust  
  Pursue the ceaseless way.  
  
The world is round, so travellers tell,  
  And straight though reach the track,  
Trudge on, trudge on, ’twill all be well,  
  The way will guide one back.  
  
But ere the circle homeward hies  
  Far, far must it remove:  
White in the moon the long road lies  
  That leads me from my love. 

Oh Who Is That Young Sinner

Oh who is that young sinner with the handcuffs on his wrists?
And what has he been after that they groan and shake their fists?
And wherefore is he wearing such a conscience-stricken air?
Oh they're taking him to prison for the colour of his hair.

'Tis a shame to human nature, such a head of hair as his;
In the good old time 'twas hanging for the colour that it is;
Though hanging isn't bad enough and flaying would be fair
For the nameless and abominable colour of his hair.
 
Oh a deal of pains he's taken and a pretty price he's paid
To hide his poll or dye it of a mentionable shade;
But they've pulled the beggar's hat off for the world to see and stare,
And they're haling him to justice for the colour of his hair.
 
Now 'tis oakum for his fingers and the treadmill for his feet
And the quarry-gang on Portland in the cold and in the heat,
And between his spells of labour in the time he has to spare
He can curse the God that made him for the colour of his hair.