Last Poems

by 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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