A.E. Housman (1859–1936)

Farewell to Barn and Stack and Tree

A.E. Housman

VIII

Farewell to Barn and Stack and Tree

“Farewell to barn and stack[1] and tree,
Farewell to Severn[2] shore.
Terence, look your last at me,
For I come home no more.

“The sun burns on the half-mown hill,
By now the blood is dried;
And Maurice amongst the hay lies still
And my knife is in his side.

“My mother thinks us long away;
‘Tis time the field were mown.
She had two sons at rising day,
To-night she’ll be alone.

“And here’s a bloody hand to shake,
And oh, man, here’s good-bye;
We’ll sweat no more on scythe and rake,
My bloody hands and I.

“I wish you strength to bring you pride,
And a love to keep you clean,
And I wish you luck, come Lammastide[3],
At racing on the green.

“Long for me the rick[4] will wait,
And long will wait the fold,
And long will stand the empty plate,
And dinner will be cold.”

— 1896


  1. A conical pile as of hay, left standing in the field for storage.
  2. Largest river in the U.K., rising in mid-Wales. The English towns of Shrewsbury, Worcester, and Gloucester are situated on its banks.
  3. August 1 wheat harvest festival, from Anglo-Saxon, hlaf-mas (loaf mass).
  4. A stack of hay in the open air.

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