Ludlow and Teme

Song Cycle by Ivor (Bertie) Gurney (1890 - 1937)

Word count: 784

1. When smoke stood up from Ludlow [sung text checked 1 time]

When smoke stood up from Ludlow,
 And mist blew off from Teme,
And blithe afield to ploughing
 Against the morning beam
 I strode beside my team,
 
The blackbird in the coppice
 Looked out to see me stride,
And hearkened as I whistled
 The trampling team beside,
 And fluted and replied:
 
"Lie down, lie down, young yeoman;
 What use to rise and rise?
Rise man a thousand mornings
 Yet down at last he lies,
 And then the man is wise."
 
I heard the tune he sang me,
 And spied his yellow bill;
I picked a stone and aimed it
 And threw it with a will:
 Then the bird was still.
 
Then my soul within me
 Took up the blackbird's strain,
And still beside the horses
 Along the dewy lane
 It sang the song again:
 
"Lie down, lie down, young yeoman;
 The sun moves always west;
The road one treads to labour
 Will lead one home to rest,
 And that will be the best."

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Researcher for this text: Ted Perry

2. Far in a western brookland [sung text not yet checked]

Far in a western brookland
  That bred me long ago
The poplars stand and tremble
  By pools I used to know.

There, in the windless night-time,
  The wanderer, marvelling why,
Halts on the bridge to hearken
  How soft the poplars sigh.

He hears: no more remembered
  In fields where I was known,
Here I lie down in London
  And turn to rest alone.

There, by the starlit fences,
  The wanderer halts and hears
My soul that lingers sighing
  About the glimmering weirs.

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Researcher for this text: Ted Perry

3. 'Tis time, I think, by Wenlock town [sung text checked 1 time]

'Tis time, I think, by Wenlock town
  The golden broom should blow;
The hawthorn sprinkled up and down
  Should charge the land with snow.

Spring will not wait the loiterer's time
  Who keeps so long away;
So others wear the broom and climb
  The hedgerows heaped with may.

Oh tarnish late on Wenlock Edge,
  Gold that I never see;
Lie long, high snowdrifts in the hedge
  That will not shower on me.

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Researcher for this text: Ted Perry

4. Ludlow Fair [sung text checked 1 time]

The lads in their hundreds to Ludlow come in for the fair,
  There's men from the barn and the forge and the mill and the fold,
The lads for the girls and the lads for the liquor are there,
  And there with the rest are the lads that will never be old.

There's chaps from the town and the field and the till and the cart,
  And many to count are the stalwart, and many the brave,
And many the handsome of face and the handsome of heart,
  And few that will carry their looks or their truth to the grave.

I wish one could know them, I wish there were tokens to tell
  The fortunate fellows that now you can never discern;
And then one could talk with them friendly and wish them farewell
  And watch them depart on the way that they will not return.

But now you may stare as you like and there's nothing to scan;
  And brushing your elbow unguessed-at and not to be told
They carry back bright to the coiner the mintage of man,
  The lads that will die in their glory and never be old.

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Available translations, adaptations or excerpts, and transliterations (if applicable):

  • FRE French (Français) (Patricia Dillard Eguchi) , copyright © 2018, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • HEB Hebrew (עברית) (Max Mader) , "הבחורים במאות", copyright © 2014, (re)printed on this website with kind permission

Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]

5. On the idle hill of summer [sung text checked 1 time]

On the idle hill of summer,
Sleepy with the flow of streams,
Far I hear the steady drummer
Drumming like a noise in dreams.

Far and near and low and louder,
On the roads of earth go by,
Dear to friends and food for powder,
Soldiers marching, all to die.

East and west on fields forgotten
Bleach the bones of comrades slain,
Lovely lads and dead and rotten;
None that go return again.

Far the calling bugles hollo,
High the screaming fife replies,
Gay the files of scarlet follow:
Woman bore me, I will rise.

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Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]

6. When I was one-and-twenty [sung text not yet checked]

When I was one-and-twenty
 I heard [a wise man]1 say,
"Give crowns and pounds and guineas
 But not your heart away;
Give pearls away and rubies
 But keep your fancy free."
But I was one-and-twenty,
 No use to talk to me.

When I was one-and-twenty
 I heard him say again,
"The heart out of the bosom
 Was never given in vain;
'Tis paid with sighs a plenty
 And sold for endless rue."
And I am two-and-twenty,
 And oh, 'tis true, 'tis true.

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Available translations, adaptations or excerpts, and transliterations (if applicable):

  • FRE French (Français) (Patricia Dillard Eguchi) , copyright © 2018, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • GER German (Deutsch) [singable] (Bertram Kottmann) , "Als ich war einundzwanzig", copyright © 2011, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • HEB Hebrew (עברית) (Max Mader) , "כאשר הייתי בן עשרים ואחת", copyright © 2014, (re)printed on this website with kind permission

View original text (without footnotes)
1 Steele: "an old man"

Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]

7. The lent lily [sung text checked 1 time]

'Tis spring; come out to ramble
The hilly brakes around,
For under thorn and bramble
About the hollow ground
The primroses are found.

And there's the windflower chilly
With all the winds at play,
And there's the Lenten lily
That has not long to stay
And dies on Easter Day.

And since till girls go maying
You find the primrose still,
And find the windflower playing
With every wind at will,
But not the daffodil.

Bring baskets now, and sally
Upon the spring's array,
And bear from hill and valley
The daffodil away
That dies on Easter Day.

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Researcher for this text: Ted Perry