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, VIII
‘Farewell to barn and stack and tree, Farewell to Severn shore. Terence, look your last at me, For I come home no more. ‘The sun burns on the half-mown hill, By now the blood is dried; And Maurice amongst the hay lies still And my knife is in his side. ‘My mother thinks us long away; ’Tis time the field were mown. She had two sons at rising day, To-night she’ll be alone. ‘And here’s a bloody hand to shake, And oh, man, here’s good-bye; We’ll sweat no more on scythe and rake, My bloody hands and I. ‘I wish you strength to bring you pride, And a love to keep you clean, And I wish you luck, come Lammastide, At racing on the green. ‘Long for me the rick will wait, And long will wait the fold, And long will stand the empty plate, And dinner will be cold.’