Saturday, June 26, 2010

Stars, I have seen them fall

A.E. Housman was a worthy poet who makes us think and smile...
by Charlie Leck

Stars, I have seen them fall,
But when they drop and die
No star is lost at all
From all the star-sown sky.
The toil of all that be
Helps not the primal fault;
It rains into the sea
And still the sea is salt.

I told you yesterday about my hour roaming through some of the major poets. It was not all wasted on Hardy (see yesterday’s blog). I found A.E. Housman much to my liking and read several lovely offerings by him. The poem above is, of course, one of his. The following little poem of dialogue between two friends – one moved on to the stars and the other still living – is delightful and gave me a hardy laugh (if you’ll excuse the pun).

Is my team ploughing
That I used to drive
And hear the harness jingle
When I was a man alive?

Ay, the horses trample,
The harness jingles now;
No change though you lie under
The land you used to plough.

Is football playing
Along the river shore,
With lads to chase the leather,
Now I stand up no more?

Ay, the ball is flying,
The lads play heart and soul;
The goal stands up, the keeper
Stands up to keep the goal.

Is my girl happy,
That I thought hard to leave,
And has she tired of weeping
As she lies down at eve?

Ay, she lies down lightly,
She lies not down to weep
Your girl is well contented.
Be still, my lad, and sleep.

Is my friend hearty,
Now I am thin and pine,
And has he found to sleep in
A better bed than mine?

Yes, lad, I lie easy,
I lie as lads would choose;
I cheer a dead man’s sweetheart,
Never ask me whose.

Oh, my!


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