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The Welsh Marches

The Welsh Marches - Alfred Edward Housman

 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 breat. 

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?