The orchards half the way From home to Ludlow fair Flowered on the first of May In Mays when I was there; And seen from stile or turning The plume of smoke would show Where fires were burning That went out long ago. The plum broke forth in green, The pear stood high and snowed, My friends and I between Would take the Ludlow road; Dressed to the nines and drinking And light in heart and limb, And each chap thinking The fair was held for him. Between the trees in flower New friends at fairtime tread The way where Ludlow tower Stands planted on the dead. Our thoughts, a long while after, They think, our words they say; Theirs now's the laughter, [The]1 fair, the first of May. Ay, yonder lads are yet The fools that we were then; For oh, the sons we get Are still the sons of men. The sumless tale of sorrow Is all unrolled in vain: May comes to-morrow And Ludlow fair again.
D. Steele sets stanzas 3-4
About the headline (FAQ)View original text (without footnotes)
First published in Cambridge Review, April 1914
1 Steele: "Of"
- by Alfred Edward Housman (1859 - 1936), "The First of May", appears in Last Poems, no. 34 [author's text checked 2 times against a primary source]
Musical settings (art songs, Lieder, mélodies, (etc.), choral pieces, and other vocal works set to this text), listed by composer (not necessarily exhaustive):
- by Michael (Dewar) Head (1900 - 1976), "Ludlow Town", 1930, published 1930. [tenor or baritone and piano] [text not verified]
- by Douglas Steele (1910 - 1999), "Between the trees", stanzas 3-4 [voice and piano], Manchester, Forsyth Publications [text verified 1 time]
- by Douglas MacDonald Stewart (1892 - ?), "The First of May", published 1923. [voice and piano] [text not verified]
- by Dom Thomas Symons (1887 - 1975), "The First of May", published 1936. [baritone and piano] [text not verified]
- by John Ramsden Williamson (1929 - 2015), "The first of May" [baritone and piano] [text not verified]
Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]
This text was added to the website: 2008-08-18
Line count: 32
Word count: 169