The kye gang to the byre, lad,
An’ the sheep to the fauld,
Ye’ll mak’ a spunk o’ fire, lad,
For my he’rt’s turned cauld;
An’ whaur the trees are meetin’,
There’s a sound like waters beatin’,
An’ the bird seems near to greetin’,
That was aye singin’ bauld.
There’s jist the tent to leave, lad,
I’ve gaithered little gear,
There’s jist yersel’ to grieve, lad,
An’ the auld dug here;
An’ when the morn comes creepin’,
An’ the waukw’nin’ birds are cheipin’,
It’ll find me lyin’ sleepin’
As I’ve slept saxty year.
Ye’ll rise to meet the sun, lad,
An’ baith be traiv’lin west,
But me that’s auld an’ done, lad,
I’ll bide an’ tak’ my rest;
For the grey heid is bendin’,
An’ the auld shune’s needin’ mendin’,
But the traiv’lin’s near its endin’,
And the end’s aye the best.
The willows stand by Fringford brook,
From Fringford up to Hethe,
Sun on their cloudy silver heads,
And shadow underneath.
They ripple to the silent airs
That stir the lazy day,
Now whitened by their passing hands,
Now turned again to grey.
The slim marsh-thistle’s purple plume
Droops tasselled on the stem,
The golden hawkweeds pierce like flame
The grass that harbours them;
Long drowning tresses of the weeds
Trail where the stream is slow,
The vapoured mauves of water-mint
Melt in the pools below;
Serenely soft September sheds
On earth her slumberous look,
The heartbreak of an anguished world
Throbs not by Fringford brook.
All peace is here. Beyond our range,
Yet ’neath the selfsame sky,
The boys that knew these fields of home
By Flemish willows lie.
They waded in the sun-shot flow,
They loitered in the shade,
Who trod the heavy road of death,
Jesting and unafraid.
Peace! What of peace? This glimpse of peace
Lies at the heart of pain,
For respite, ere the spirit’s load
We stoop to lift again.
O load of grief, of faith, of wrath,
Of patient, quenchless will,
Till God shall ease us of your weight
We’ll bear you higher still!
O ghosts that walk by Fringford brook,
’Tis more than peace you give,
For you, who knew so well to die,
Shall teach us how to live.
In the prison-house of the dark
I lay with open eyes,
And pale beyond the pale windows
I saw the dawn rise.
From past the bounds of space
Where earthly vapours climb,
There stirred the voice I shall not hear
On this side Time.
There is one death for the body,
And one death for the heart,
And one prayer for the hope of the end,
When some links part.
Christ, from uncounted leagues,
Beyond the sun and moon,
Strike with the sword of Thine own pity—
Bring the dawn soon.