Thursday, May 02, 2013


If I Had My Will

A.C. Benson (1862-1925), "My Will":
I would live, if I had my will,
In an old stone grange on a Yorkshire hill;
Ivy-encircled, lichen-streaked,
Low and mullioned, gable-peaked,
With a velvet lawn, and a hedge of yew,
An apple orchard to saunter through,
Hyacinth-scented in spring's clear prime,
And rich with roses in summer-time,
And a waft of heather over the hill,
          Had I my will!

Over my tree-tops, grave and brown,
Slants the back of a breezy down;
Through my fields, by the covert-edge,
A swift stream splashes from ledge to ledge,
On to the hamlet, scattered, gray,
Where folk live leisurely day by day;
The same old faces about my walks;
Smiling welcomes and simple talks;
Innocent stories of Jack and Jill;
          Had I my will!

How my thrushes should pipe ere noon,
Young birds learning the old birds' tune!
Casements wide, when the eve is fair,
To drink the scents of the moonlit air.
Over the valley I'd see the lights
Of the lone hill-farms, on the upland heights;
And hear, when the night is alert with rain,
The steady pulse of the labouring train,
With the measured gush of the merry rill,
          Had I my will!

Then in the winter, when gusts pipe thin,
By a clear fire would I sit within,
Warm and dry in the ingle nook,
Reading at ease in a good grave book;
Under the lamp, as I sideways bend,
I'd scan the face of my well-loved friend;
Writing my verses with careless speed,
One at least would be pleased to read;
Thus sweet leisure my days should fill,
          Had I my will!

Then when the last guest steps to my side;
—May it be summer, the windows wide,—
I would smile as the parson prayed,
Smile to think I was once afraid;
Death should beckon me, take my hand,
Smile at the door of the silent land;
Then the slumber, how good to sleep
Under the grass where the shadows creep,
Where the headstones slant on the wind-swept hill,
          I shall have my will!

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