Sunday, May 01, 2011


The First of May

A.E. Housman, The First of May:
The orchards half the way
        From home to Ludlow fair
Flowered on the first of May
        In Mays when I was there;
And seen from stile or turning
        The plume of smoke would show
Where fires were burning
        That went out long ago.

The plum broke forth in green,
        The pear stood high and snowed,
My friends and I between
        Would take the Ludlow road;
Dressed to the nines and drinking
        And light in heart and limb,
And each chap thinking
        The fair was held for him.

Between the trees in flower
        New friends at fairtime tread
The way where Ludlow tower
        Stands planted on the dead.
Our thoughts, a long while after,
        They think, our words they say;
Theirs now’s the laughter,
        The fair, the first of May.

Ay, yonder lads are yet
        The fools that we were then;
For oh, the sons we get
        Are still the sons of men.
The sumless tale of sorrow
        Is all unrolled in vain:
May comes to-morrow
        And Ludlow fair again.

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