Poem Hunter
The Lads In Their Hundreds
(26 March 1859 – 30 April 1936 / Worcestershire)

The Lads In Their Hundreds

Poem By Alfred Edward Housman

The lads in their hundreds to Ludlow come in for the fair,
There's men from the barn and the forge and the mill and the fold,
The lads for the girls and the lads for the liquor are there,
And there with the rest are the lads that will never be old.

There's chaps from the town and the field and the till and the cart,
And many to count are the stalwart, and many the brave,
And many the handsome of face and the handsome of heart,
And few that will carry their looks or their truth to the grave.

I wish one could know them, I wish there were tokens to tell
The fortunate fellows that now you can never discern;
And then one could talk with them friendly and wish them farewell
And watch them depart on the way that they will not return.

But now you may stare as you like and there's nothing to scan;
And brushing your elbow unguessed-at and not to be told
They carry back bright to the coiner the mintage of man,
The lads that will die in their glory and never be old.

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Comments (3)

To my first comment, I would add that this poem was published in 1896. twenty years before the events that led to the loss of a generation..
I do not read it as an epitaph for a generation. I read it as being about the world's slow stain, which some of the youths that come in for the fair are fortunate to avoid by dying before the next May, 's fair. Geoffrey Plowden.
No finer epitaph for a lost generation has ever been written. It is worth listening to George Butterworth's setting of this poem.