The Author A. E. Housman

The chestnut casts his flambeaux

by


    The chestnut casts his flambeaux, and the flowers
    Stream from the hawthorn on the wind away,
    The doors clap to, the pane is blind with showers.
    Pass me the can, lad; there’s an end of May.

    There’s one spoilt spring to scant our mortal lot,
    One season ruined of our little store.
    May will be fine next year as like as not:
    Oh ay, but then we shall be twenty-four.

    We for a certainty are not the first
    Have sat in taverns while the tempest hurled
    Their hopeful plans to emptiness, and cursed
    Whatever brute and blackguard made the world.

    It is in truth iniquity on high
    To cheat our sentenced souls of aught they crave,
    And mar the merriment as you and I
    Fare on our long fool’s-errand to the grave.

    Iniquity it is; but pass the can.
    My lad, no pair of kings our mothers bore;
    Our only portion is the estate of man:
    We want the moon, but we shall get no more.

    If here to-day the cloud of thunder lours
    To-morrow it will hie on far behests;
    The flesh will grieve on other bones than ours
    Soon, and the soul will mourn in other breasts.

    The troubles of our proud and angry dust
    Are from eternity, and shall not fail.
    Bear them we can, and if we can we must.
    Shoulder the sky, my lad, and drink your ale.

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