Lute to Kill

A little-known Housman poem that should be better-known:


Breathe, my lute, beneath my fingers
    One regretful breath,
One lament for life that lingers
    Round the doors of death.
For the frost has killed the rose,
And our summer dies in snows,
    And our morning once for all
    Gathers to the evenfall.

Hush, my lute, return to sleeping,
    Sing no songs again.
For the reaper stays his reaping
    On the darkened plain;
And the day has drained its cup,
And the twilight cometh up;
    Song and sorrow all that are
    Slumber at the even-star.

A.E. Housman (1859-1936) — see also Breathe, my lute at Wikilivres.

The Four Treasons

Each year the patient hand of time
Plucks bare the oak, the ash, the lime,
And sharp against the Autumn sky
The subtle branches soothe the eye.

When Winter’s spell is fast on earth
The trees await the sun’s rebirth,
And pearled in frost, they stand and seem
Designed for beauty in a dream.

Then Spring revokes the spell and wills
The early leaves, the silver rills:
And symbol’d songs, more sweet than words,
Fill air with urgence of the birds.

Last, Summer’s lion roars his heat:
And pollen drifts and leaves compete
To drink the golden tide of light
Ere fall the sable drought of night.

In Memoriam A.E.H.