XLII - The Merry Guide

Once in the wind of morning
   I ranged the thymy wold;
The world-wide air was azure
   And all the brooks ran gold.

There through the dews beside me
   Behold a youth that trod,
With feathered cap on forehead,
   And poised a golden rod.

With mien to match the morning
   And gay delightful guise
And friendly brows and laughter
   He looked me in the eyes.

Oh whence, I asked, and whither?
   He smiled and would not say,
And looked at me and beckoned
   And laughed and led the way.

And with kind looks and laughter
   And nought to say beside
We two went on together,
   I and my happy guide.

Across the glittering pastures
   And empty upland still
And solitude of shepherds
   High in the folded hill,

By hanging woods and hamlets
   That gaze through orchards down
On many a windmill turning
   And far-discovered town,

With gay regards of promise
   And sure unslackened stride
And smiles and nothing spoken
   Led on my merry guide.

By blowing realms of woodland
   With sunstruck vanes afield
And cloud-led shadows sailing
   About the windy weald,

By valley-guarded granges
   And silver waters wide,
Content at heart I followed
   With my delightful guide.

And like the cloudy shadows
   Across the country blown
We two fare on for ever,
   But not we two alone.

With the great gale we journey
   That breathes from gardens thinned,
Borne in the drift of blossoms
   Whose petals throng the wind;

Buoyed on the heaven-heard whisper
   Of dancing leaflets whirled
From all the woods that autumn
   Bereaves in all the world.

And midst the fluttering legion
   Of all the ever died
I follow, and before us
   Goes the delightful guide,

With lips that brim with laughter
   But never once respond,
And feet that fly on feathers,
   And serpent-circled wand.

A.E. Housman, A Shropshire Lad
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