High the vanes of Shrewsbury gleam Islanded in Severn stream; The bridges from the steepled crest Cross the water east and west. The flag of morn in conqueror's state Enters at the English gate: The vanquished eve, as night prevails, Bleeds upon the road to Wales. Ages since the vanquished bled Round my mother's marriage-bed; There the ravens feasted far About the open house of war: When Severn down to Buildwas ran Coloured with the death of man, Couched upon her brother's grave That Saxon got me on the slave. The sound of fight is silent long That began the ancient wrong; Long the voice of tears is still That wept of old the endless ill. In my heart it has not died, The war that sleeps on Severn side; They cease not fighting, east and west, On the marches of my breast. Here the truceless armies yet Trample, rolled in blood and sweat; They kill and kill and never die; And I think that each is I. None will part us, none undo The knot that makes one flesh of two, Sick with hatred, sick with pain, Strangling-- When shall we be slain? When shall I be dead and rid Of the wrong my father did? How long, how long, till spade and hearse Puts to sleep my mother's curse?
- by Alfred Edward Housman (1859 - 1936), "The Welsh Marches", appears in A Shropshire Lad, no. 28, first published 1896 [author's text checked 1 time against a primary source]
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This text was added to the website: 2008-12-12
Line count: 36
Word count: 221