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Last Poems by A. E. Housman   By: (1859-1936)

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LAST POEMS

By A. E. Housman

I publish these poems, few though they are, because it is not likely that I shall ever be impelled to write much more. I can no longer expect to be revisited by the continuous excitement under which in the early months of 1895 I wrote the greater part of my first book, nor indeed could I well sustain it if it came; and it is best that what I have written should be printed while I am here to see it through the press and control its spelling and punctuation. About a quarter of this matter belongs to the April of the present year, but most of it to dates between 1895 and 1910.

September 1922

We'll to the woods no more, The laurels are all cut, The bowers are bare of bay That once the Muses wore; The year draws in the day And soon will evening shut: The laurels all are cut, We'll to the woods no more. Oh we'll no more, no more To the leafy woods away, To the high wild woods of laurel And the bowers of bay no more.

I. THE WEST

Beyond the moor and the mountain crest Comrade, look not on the west The sun is down and drinks away From air and land the lees of day.

The long cloud and the single pine Sentinel the ending line, And out beyond it, clear and wan, Reach the gulfs of evening on.

The son of woman turns his brow West from forty countries now, And, as the edge of heaven he eyes, Thinks eternal thoughts, and sighs.

Oh wide's the world, to rest or roam, With change abroad and cheer at home, Fights and furloughs, talk and tale, Company and beef and ale.

But if I front the evening sky Silent on the west look I, And my comrade, stride for stride, Paces silent at my side,

Comrade, look not on the west: 'Twill have the heart out of your breast; 'Twill take your thoughts and sink them far, Leagues beyond the sunset bar.

Oh lad, I fear that yon's the sea Where they fished for you and me, And there, from whence we both were ta'en, You and I shall drown again.

Send not on your soul before To dive from that beguiling shore, And let not yet the swimmer leave His clothes upon the sands of eve.

Too fast to yonder strand forlorn We journey, to the sunken bourn, To flush the fading tinges eyed By other lads at eventide.

Wide is the world, to rest or roam, And early 'tis for turning home: Plant your heel on earth and stand, And let's forget our native land.

When you and I are split on air Long we shall be strangers there; Friends of flesh and bone are best; Comrade, look not on the west.

II.

As I gird on for fighting My sword upon my thigh, I think on old ill fortunes Of better men than I.

Think I, the round world over, What golden lads are low With hurts not mine to mourn for And shames I shall not know.

What evil luck soever For me remains in store, 'Tis sure much finer fellows Have fared much worse before.

So here are things to think on That ought to make me brave, As I strap on for fighting My sword that will not save.

III.

Her strong enchantments failing, Her towers of fear in wreck, Her limbecks dried of poisons And the knife at her neck,

The Queen of air and darkness Begins to shrill and cry, 'O young man, O my slayer, To morrow you shall die.'

O Queen of air and darkness, I think 'tis truth you say, And I shall die to morrow; But you will die to day.

IV. ILLIC JACET

Oh hard is the bed they have made him, And common the blanket and cheap; But there he will lie as they laid him: Where else could you trust him to sleep?

To sleep when the bugle is crying And cravens have heard and are brave, When mothers and sweethearts are sighing And lads are in love with the grave... Continue reading book >>




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