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Poem by Alfred Edward Housman


Last Poems. 25. The Oracles


Tis mute, the word they went to hear on high Dodona mountain
        When winds were in the oakenshaws and all the cauldrons tolled,
And mutes the midland navel-stone beside the singing fountain,
        And echoes list to silence now where gods told lies of old.

I took my question to the shrine that has not ceased from speaking,
        The heart within, that tells the truth and tells it twice as plain;
And from the cave of oracles I heard the priestess shrieking
        That she and I should surely die and never live again.

Oh priestess, what you cry is clear, and sound good sense I think it;
        But let the screaming echoes rest, and froth your mouth no more.
Tis true theres better boose than brine, but he that drowns must drink it;
        And oh, my lass, the news is news that men have heard before.

The King with half the East at heel is marched from lands of morning;
        Their fighters drink the rivers up, their shafts benight the air,
And he that stands will die for nought, and home theres no returning.
        The Spartans on the sea-wet rock sat down and combed their hair.



Alfred Edward Housman


Alfred Edward Housman's other poems:
  1. Last Poems. 20. The Night Is Freezing Fast
  2. More Poems. 14. The Farms of Home Lie Lost in Even
  3. More Poems. 47. For My Funeral
  4. Additional Poems. 4. It Is No Gift I Tender
  5. More Poems. 11. The Rainy Pleiads Wester


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