A Shropshire Lad – LXI – Hughley Steeple by A. E. Housman
Hughley Steeple was published in Housman’s collection of 63 poems in A Shropshire Lad (1896). Housman self-published the book after being turned down by several publishers. Themes tend to focus on unrequited love, pastoral beauty, fleeting youth, grief, death, and patriotism.
The vane on Hughley steeple
Veers bright, a far-known sign,
And there lie Hughley people,
And there lie friends of mine.
Tall in their midst the tower
Divides the shade and sun,
And the clock strikes the hour
And tells the time to none.
To south the headstones cluster, The sunny mounds lie thick; The dead are more in muster At Hughley than the quick. North, for a soon-told number, Chill graves the sexton delves, And steeple-shadowed slumber The slayers of themselves. To north, to south, lie parted, With Hughley tower above, The kind, the single-hearted, The lads I used to love. And, south or north, 'tis only A choice of friends one knows, And I shall ne'er be lonely Asleep with these or those.