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Poetry Monster

On Moonlit Heath and Lonesome Bank poem – A. E. Housman

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.