A E Housman
Twice a week the winter thorough
Here stood I to keep the goal:
Football then was fighting sorrow
For the young man's soul.
Now in Maytime to the wicket
Out I march with bat and pad:
See the son of grief at cricket
Trying to be glad.
Try I will; no harm in trying:
Wonder 'tis how little mirth
Keeps the bones of man from lying
On the bed of earth.
Tonight the moon is a cracker,
with a bite out of it
floating in the night,
and in a week or so
according to the calendar
it will probably look
like a silver football,
and nine, maybe ten days ago
it reminded me of a thin bright claw.
But eventually --
by the end of the month,
I reckon --
it will waste away
nothing but stars in the sky,
and I will have a few nights
a little time to rest my jittery pen.
In the Shreve High football stadium,
I think of Polacks nursing long beers in Tiltonsville,
And gray faces of Negroes in the blast furnace at Benwood,
And the ruptured night watchman of Wheeling Steel,
Dreaming of heroes.
All the proud fathers are ashamed to go home.
Their women cluck like starved pullets,
Dying for love.
Their sons grow suicidally beautiful
At the beginning of October,
And gallop terribly against each other's bodies.