The South Country

When I am living in the Midlands
         That are sodden and unkind,
         I light my lamp in the evening:
         My work is left behind;
         And the great hills of the South Country
         Come back into my mind.
         The great hills of the South Country
         They stand along the sea;
         And it’s there walking in the high woods
         That I could wish to be,
         And the men that were boys when I was a boy
         Walking along with me.
         The men that live in North England
         I saw them for a day:
         Their hearts are set upon the waste fells,
         Their skies are fast and grey;
         From their castle-walls a man may see
         The mountains far away.
         The men that live in West England
         They see the Severn strong,
         A-rolling on rough water brown
         Light aspen leaves along.
         They have the secret of the Rocks,
         And the oldest kind of song.
         But the men that live in the South Country
         Are the kindest and most wise,
         They get their laughter from the loud surf,
         And the faith in their happy eyes
         Comes surely from our Sister the Spring
         When over the sea she flies;
         The violets suddenly bloom at her feet,
         She blesses us with surprise.
         I never get between the pines
         But I smell the Sussex air;
         Nor I never come on a belt of sand
         But my home is there.
         And along the sky the line of the Downs
         So noble and so bare.
         A lost thing could I never find,
         Nor a broken thing mend:
         And I fear I shall be all alone
         When I get towards the end.
         Who will there be to comfort me
         Or who will be my friend?
         I will gather and carefully make my friends
         Of the men of the Sussex Weald;
         They watch the stars from silent folds,
         They stiffly plough the field.
         By them and the God of the South Country
         My poor soul shall be healed.
         If I ever become a rich man,
         Or if ever I grow to be old,
         I will build a house with deep thatch
         To shelter me from the cold,
         And there shall the Sussex songs be sung
         And the story of Sussex told.
         I will hold my house in the high wood
         Within a walk of the sea,
         And the men that were boys when I was a boy
         Shall sit and drink with me.

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