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On Moonlit Heath and Lonesome Bank

Written by: A E Housman | Biography
 | Quotes (4) |
 On moonlit heath and lonesome bank 
The sheep beside me graze; 
And yon the gallows used to clank 
Fast by the four cross ways. 

A careless shepherd once would keep 
The flocks by moonlight there, * 
And high amongst the glimmering sheep 
The dead man stood on air. 

They hang us now in Shrewsbury jail: 
The whistles blow forlorn, 
And trains all night groan on the rail 
To men that die at morn. 

There sleeps in Shrewsbury jail to-night, 
Or wakes, as may betide, 
A better lad, if things went right, 
Than most that sleep outside. 

And naked to the hangman's noose 
The morning clocks will ring 
A neck God made for other use 
Than strangling in a string. 

And sharp the link of life will snap, 
And dead on air will stand 
Heels that held up as straight a chap 
As treads upon the land. 

So here I'll watch the night and wait 
To see the morning shine, 
When he will hear the stroke of eight 
And not the stroke of nine; 

And wish my friend as sound a sleep 
As lads' I did not know, 
That shepherded the moonlit sheep 
A hundred years ago.



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