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. E. Housman - 1859-1936
A Shropshire Lad, VII
When smoke stood up from Ludlow, And mist blew off from Teme, And blithe afield to ploughing Against the morning beam I strode beside my team, The blackbird in the coppice Looked out to see me stride, And hearkened as I whistled The trampling team beside, And fluted and replied: ‘Lie down, lie down, young yeoman; What use to rise and rise? Rise man a thousand mornings Yet down at last he lies, And then the man is wise.’ I heard the tune he sang me, And spied his yellow bill; I picked a stone and aimed it And threw it with a will: Then the bird was still. Then my soul within me Took up the blackbird’s strain, And still beside the horses Along the dewy lane It sang the song again: ‘Lie down, lie down, young yeoman; The sun moves always west; The road one treads to labour Will lead one home to rest, And that will be the best.’