From Clee to heaven the beacon burns, The shires have seen it plain, From north and south the sign returns And beacons burn again. Look left, look right, the hills are bright, The dales are light between, Because 'tis fifty years to-night That God has saved the Queen. Now, when the flame they watch not towers About the soil they trod, Lads, we'll remember friends of ours Who shared the work with God. To skies that knit their heartstrings right, To fields that bred them brave, The saviours come not home tonight: Themselves they could not save. It dawns in Asia, tombstones show And Shropshire names are read; And the Nile spills his overflow Beside the Severn's dead. We pledge in peace by farm and town The Queen they served in war, And fire the beacons up and down The land they perished for. 'God save the Queen' we living sing, From height to height 'tis heard; And with the rest your voices ring, Lads of the Fifty-third. Oh, God will save her, fear you not; Be you the men you've been, Get you the sons your fathers got, And God will save the Queen.
From a Shropshire Lad - 1896
During his years in London, A. E. Housman completed
A Shropshire Lad, a cycle of 63 poems. After several publishers had turned it down, he published it at his own expense in 1896. The emotion and vulnerability revealed in the book surprised both his colleagues and his students. At first selling slowly, it rapidly became a lasting success. Its appeal to English musicians had helped to make it widely known before World War I, when its themes struck a powerful chord with English readers.] A Shropshire Lad has been in print continuously since May 1896.The poems are marked by deep pessimism and preoccupation with death, without religious consolation. Housman wrote most of them while living in Highgate, London, before ever visiting that part of Shropshire (about thirty miles from his boyhood home), which he presented in an idealized pastoral light, as his 'land of lost content'. Housman himself acknowledged the influence of the songs of William Shakespeare, the Scottish Border Ballads and Heinrich Heine, but specifically denied any influence of Greek and Latin classics in his poetry.