Home  »  The Oxford Book of English Verse  »  697. Old Song

Arthur Quiller-Couch, ed. 1919. The Oxford Book of English Verse: 1250–1900.

Edward Fitzgerald. 1809–1883

697. Old Song

TIS a dull sight 
  To see the year dying, 
When winter winds 
  Set the yellow wood sighing: 
    Sighing, O sighing!         5
When such a time cometh 
  I do retire 
Into an old room 
  Beside a bright fire: 
    O, pile a bright fire!  10
And there I sit 
  Reading old things, 
Of knights and lorn damsels, 
  While the wind sings— 
    O, drearily sings!  15
I never look out 
  Nor attend to the blast; 
For all to be seen 
  Is the leaves falling fast: 
    Falling, falling!  20
But close at the hearth, 
  Like a cricket, sit I, 
Reading of summer 
  And chivalry— 
    Gallant chivalry!  25
Then with an old friend 
  I talk of our youth— 
How ’twas gladsome, but often 
  Foolish, forsooth: 
    But gladsome, gladsome!  30
Or, to get merry, 
  We sing some old rhyme 
That made the wood ring again 
  In summer time— 
    Sweet summer time!  35
Then go we smoking, 
  Silent and snug: 
Naught passes between us, 
  Save a brown jug— 
    Sometimes!  40
And sometimes a tear 
  Will rise in each eye, 
Seeing the two old friends 
  So merrily— 
    So merrily!  45
And ere to bed 
  Go we, go we, 
Down on the ashes 
  We kneel on the knee, 
    Praying together!  50
Thus, then, live I 
  Till, ‘mid all the gloom, 
By Heaven! the bold sun 
  Is with me in the room 
    Shining, shining!  55
Then the clouds part, 
  Swallows soaring between; 
The spring is alive, 
  And the meadows are green! 
I jump up like mad,  60
  Break the old pipe in twain, 
And away to the meadows, 
  The meadows again!