It dawns in Asia, tombstones show And Shropshire names are read; And the Nile spills his overflow Beside the Severn's dead. In the nation that is not Nothing stands that stood before; There revenges are forgot, And the hater hates no more; Lovers lying two and two Ask not whom they sleep beside, And the bridegroom all night through Never turns him to the bride. They have enough as 'tis: I see In many an eye that measures me The mortal sickness of a mind Too unhappy to be kind. Courage, lad, 'tis not for long: Stand, quit you like stone, be strong. And low is the roof, but it covers A sleeper content to repose; And far from his friends and his lovers He lies with the sweetheart he chose. The lad came to the door at night, When lovers crown their vows, And whistled soft and out of sight In shadow of the boughs. Oh worse remains for others And worse to fear had I Than here at four-and-twenty To lay me down and die.
The book was published the following year, partly at the author's expense, after it had already been rejected by one publisher. Now to your grave shall friend and stranger With ruth and some with envy come: Undishonoured, clear of danger, Clean of guilt, pass hence and home. Home is the sailor, home from sea: Her far-borne canvas furled The ship pours shining on the quay The plunder of the world. Ensanguining the skies How heavily it dies Into the west away; Past touch and sight and sound Not further to be found, How hopeless under ground Falls the remorseful day. There's one spoilt spring to scant our mortal lot, One season ruined of our little store.
And if as a lad grows older The troubles he bears are more, He carries his griefs on a shoulder That handselled them long before. Here the word works on both levels so we cannot tell quite which is foregrounded. He, standing hushed, a pace or two apart, Among the bluebells of the listless plain, Thinks, and remembers how he cleansed his heart And washed his hands in innocence in vain. So then the summer fields about, Till rainy days began, Rose Harland on her Sundays out Walked with the better man. The weeping Pleiads wester, And the moon is under sea; From bourn to bourn of midnight Far sighs the rainy breeze: It sighs from a lost country To a land I have not known; The weeping Pleiads wester, And I lie down alone.
Thou, when the night falls deep, Thou, though the mount be won, High heart, thou shalt but sleep The sleep denied to none. The sloe was lost in flower, The April elm was dim; That was the lover's hour, The hour for lies and him. Smooth between sea and land Is laid the yellow sand, And here through summer days The seed of Adam plays. In 1892 he was appointed Professor of Latin at University College, London and later took up the same position at Cambridge University in 1911. This parody was first written in 1883, but quoted here from a revised version of 1927. The stark steel splintered from the thrust, The basalt mountain sprang to dust, The blazing pier of diamond flawed In shards of rainbow all abroad.
To-morrow, more's the pity, Away we both must hie, To air the ditty, And to earth I. About your work in town and farm Still you'll keep my head from harm, Still you'll help me, hands that gave A grasp to friend me to the grave. Housman 1859-1936 Roger McGough's last Poetry Please programme was devoted to A. For these of old the trader Unpearled the Indian seas, The nations of the nadir Were diamondless for these; A people prone and haggard Beheld their lightnings hurled: All round, like Sinai, staggered The sceptre-shaken world. Fall, winter, fall; for he, Prompt hand and headpiece clever, Has woven a winter robe, And made of earth and sea His overcoat for ever, And wears the turning globe. The toil of all that be Helps not the primal fault; It rains into the sea, And still the sea is salt.
Oh priestess, what you cry is clear, and sound good sense I think it; But let the screaming echoes rest, and froth your mouth no more. The skies, they are not always raining Nor grey the twelvemonth through; And I shall meet good days and mirth, And range the lovely lands of earth With friends no worse than you. I see the country far away Where I shall never stand; The heart goes where no footstep may Into the promised land. Houseman's test for great poetry. He gathered all that sprang to birth From the many-venomed earth; First a little, thence to more, He sampled all her killing store; And easy, smiling, seasoned sound, Sate the king when healths went round. There pass the careless people That call their souls their own; Here by the road I loiter, How idle and alone. But I will go where they are hid That never were begot, To my inheritance amid The nation that is not.
Home return who him behold, Child to mother, sheep to fold, Bird to nest from wandering wide: Happy bridegroom, seek your bride. But against our entering in From the drawbridge Death and Sun Rose to render key and sword To their father and their lord. The realm I look upon and die Another man will own; He shall attain the heaven that I Perish and have not known. Leave your home behind, lad, And reach your friends your hand, And go, and luck go with you While Ludlow tower shall stand. Others, or ever thou, To scale those heights were sworn; And some achieved, but now They never see the morn.
There, like the wind through woods in riot, Through him the gale of life blew high; The tree of man was never quiet: Then 'twas the Roman, now 'tis I. Photograph by Peter Burden A cherry tree stump marks the spot and a plaque was placed on the north wall of the church. Home is the sailor, home from sea: Her far-borne canvas furled The ship pours shining on the quay The plunder of the world. One, two, three, four, to market-place and people It tossed them down. There is an unconscious understanding in poems, particularly of the very short lyrical sort, whereby the body enacts, as if by implication, but an implication we actually experience physically, an experience in language. Men loved unkindness then, but lightless in the quarry I slept and saw not; tears fell down, I did not mourn; Sweat ran and blood sprang out and I was never sorry: Then it was well with me, in days ere I was born. Since all is done that's due and right Let's home; and now, my lad, good-night, For I must turn away.