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, XI
On your midnight pallet lying, Listen, and undo the door: Lads that waste the light in sighing In the dark should sigh no more; Night should ease a lover’s sorrow; Therefore, since I go to-morrow, Pity me before. In the land to which I travel, The far dwelling, let me say— Once, if here the couch is gravel, In a kinder bed I lay, And the breast the darnel smothers Rested once upon another’s When it was not clay.