A Shropshire Lad  1: From Clee to heaven the beacon burns

By A. E. Housman 1859–1936
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 to-night:
      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.

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Poet A. E. Housman 1859–1936

POET’S REGION England

SCHOOL / PERIOD Victorian

Subjects Nature, Heroes & Patriotism, History & Politics, Social Commentaries, Landscapes & Pastorals

Poetic Terms Common Measure

 A. E. Housman

Biography

At first glance nothing seems more unlikely than that the poet of the enormously popular A Shropshire Lad should be the classical scholar A. E. Housman. This Cambridge University professor of Latin left no doubt as to his priorities: the emendation of classical texts was both an intellectual search for the truth and his life's work; poetry was an emotional and physiological experience that began with a sensation in the pit of . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Nature, Heroes & Patriotism, History & Politics, Social Commentaries, Landscapes & Pastorals

POET’S REGION England

SCHOOL / PERIOD Victorian

Poetic Terms Common Measure

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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