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Last Poems by A. E. Housman

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I. THE WEST Beyond the moor and the mountain crest—Comrade, look not on the west—The sun is down and drinks awayFrom air and land the lees of day.The long cloud and the single pineSentinel the ending line,And out beyond it, clear and wan,Reach the gulfs of evening on.The son of woman turns his browWest 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 skySilent 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 seaWhere 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 beforeTo dive from that beguiling shore,And let not yet the swimmer leaveHis clothes upon the sands of eve.Too fast to yonder strand forlornWe journey, to the sunken bourn,To flush the fading tinges eyedBy 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 airLong we shall be strangers there;Friends of flesh and bone are best;Comrade, look not on the west.

II. As I gird on for fightingMy sword upon my thigh,I think on old ill fortunesOf better men than I.Think I, the round world over,What golden lads are lowWith hurts not mine to mourn forAnd shames I shall not know.What evil luck soeverFor me remains in store,'Tis sure much finer fellowsHave fared much worse before.So here are things to think onThat ought to make me brave,As I strap on for fightingMy sword that will not save.

III. Her strong enchantments failing,Her towers of fear in wreck,Her limbecks dried of poisonsAnd the knife at her neck,The Queen of air and darknessBegins 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 cryingAnd cravens have heard and are brave,When mothers and sweethearts are sighingAnd lads are in love with the grave.Oh dark is the chamber and lonely,And lights and companions depart;But lief will he lose them and onlyBehold the desire of his heart.And low is the roof, but it coversA sleeper content to repose;And far from his friends and his loversHe lies with the sweetheart he chose.

V. GRENADIER The Queen she sent to look for me,The sergeant he did say,'Young man, a soldier will you beFor thirteen pence a day?'For thirteen pence a day did ITake off the things I wore,And I have marched to where I lie,And I shall march no more....