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HOUSMAN, Alfred


Epitaph on an Army of Mercenaries


These, in the days when heaven was falling,

The hour when earth's foundations fled,

Followed their mercenary calling

And took their wages and are dead.


Their shoulders held the sky suspended;

They stood, and the earth's foundations stay;

What God abandoned, these defended,

And saved the sum of things for pay.


A Shropshire Lad II


Loveliest of trees, the cherry now

Is hung with bloom along the bough,

And stands about the woodland ride

Wearing white for Eastertide.


Now, of my threescore years and ten,

Twenty will not come again,

And take from seventy springs a score,

It only leaves me fifty more.


And since to look at things in bloom

Fifty springs are little room,

About the woodlands I will go

To see the cherry hung with snow.



Shropshire Lad XL


INTO my heart on air that kills

From yon far country blows:

What are those blue remembered hills,

What spires, what farms are those?


That is the land of lost content,

I see it shining plain,

The happy highways where I went

And cannot come again.


Een jongen uit Shropshire XL

Vanuit het gindse verre land trekt

door m’n hart een slopende tocht:

wat zijn die heuglijkblauwe heuvels,

wat zijn die torens, hoeves toch?


Dat is het land van verloren dagen,

ik zie het helder stralen,

daar ging ik mijn gelukkige wegen

waar ik niet terug kan keren.


Vertaling Z. DE MEESTER





A Shropshire Lad LX


NOW hollow fires burn out to black,

And lights are guttering low:

Square your shoulders, lift your pack,

And leave your friends and go.


Oh never fear, man, nought’s to dread,

Look not left nor right:

In all the endless road you tread

There’s nothing but the night.



Epitaph on an Army of Mercenaries


These, in the days when heaven was falling,

The hour when earth's foundations fled,

Followed their mercenary calling

And took their wages and are dead.


Their shoulders held the sky suspended;

They stood, and the earth's foundations stay;

What God abandoned, these defended,

And saved the sum of things for pay.



//////////////////////////////

Here dead lie we because we did not choose

To live and shame the land from which we sprung.

Life, to be sure, is nothing much to lose;

But young men think it is, and we were young.


Stars, I have seen them fall

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.


Along the field as we came by

ALONG the field as we came by

A year ago, my love and I,

The aspen over stile and stone

Was talking to itself alone.

‘Oh who are these that kiss and pass?

A country lover and his lass;

Two lovers looking to be wed;

And time shall put them both to bed,

But she shall lie with earth above,

And he beside another love.’

And sure enough beneath the tree

There walks another love with me,

And overhead the aspen heaves

Its rainy-sounding silver leaves;

And I spell nothing in their stir,

But now perhaps they speak to her,

And plain for her to understand

They talk about a time at hand

When I shall sleep with clover clad,

And she beside another lad.


Be still, my soul, be still

Be still, my soul, be still; the arms you bear are brittle,

Earth and high heaven are fixt of old and founded strong.

Think rather,-- call to thought, if now you grieve a little,

The days when we had rest, O soul, for they were long.

Men loved unkindness then, but lightless in the quarry

I slept and saw not; tears fell down, I did not mourn;

Sweat ran and blood sprang out and I was never sorry:

Then it was well with me, in days ere I was born.

Now, and I muse for why and never find the reason,

I pace the earth, and drink the air, and feel the sun.

Be still, be still, my soul; it is but for a season:

Let us endure an hour and see injustice done.

Ay, look: high heaven and earth ail from the prime foundation;

All thoughts to rive the heart are here, and all are vain:

Horror and scorn and hate and fear and indignation--

Oh why did I awake? when shall I sleep again?


Others, I Am Not the First


Others, I am not the first,

Have willed more mischief than they durst:

If in the breathless night I too

Shiver now, 'tis nothing new.

More than I, if truth were told,

Have stood and sweated hot and cold,

And through their reins in ice and fire

Fear contended with desire.

Agued once like me were they,

But I like them shall win my way

Lastly to the bed of mould

Where there's neither heat nor cold.

But from my grave across my brow

Plays no wind of healing now,

And fire and ice within me fight

Beneath the suffocating night.


Shake Hands


Shake hands, we shall never be friends, all's over;

I only vex you the more I try.

All's wrong that ever I've done or said,

And nought to help it in this dull head:

Shake hands, here's luck, good-bye.


But if you come to a road where danger

Or guilt or anguish or shame's to share,

Be good to the lad that loves you true

And the soul that was born to die for you,

And whistle and I'll be there.



XII

The laws of God, the laws of man,

He may keep that will and can;

Not I: let God and man decree

Laws for themselves and not for me;

And if my ways are not as theirs

Let them mind their own affairs.

Their deeds I judge and much condemn,

Yet when did I make laws for them? ...


Easter Hymn


If in that Syrian garden, ages slain,

You sleep, and know not you are dead in vain,

Nor even in dreams behold how dark and bright

Ascends in smoke and fire by day and night

The hate you died to quench and could but fan,

Sleep well and see no morning, son of man.


But if, the grave rent and the stone rolled by,

At the right hand of majesty on high

You sit, and sitting so remember yet

Your tears, your agony and bloody sweat,

Your cross and passion and the life you gave,

Bow hither out of heaven and see and save