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Edmund Clarence Stedman, ed. (1833–1908). A Victorian Anthology, 1837–1895. 1895.

Ernest Rhys b. 1860

London Feast

O WHERE do you go, and what’s your will,

My sunburnt herdsmen of the hill,

That leave your herds no pastoral priest,

And take the road where, sad and dun,

The smoke-cloud drapes the April sun?—

“We go to taste

Of London feast.”

O country-lads, this April tide,

Why do you leave the country-side?

The new-come Spring stirs bird and beast;

The winter storm is over now,

And melted the December snow:—

“We go to taste

Of London feast!”

O village maidens, April girls,

With dancing eyes and country curls,

Is April naught, the maypole ceased,

That you must leave the daisied places

That painted all your pretty faces?—

“We go to taste

Of London feast.”

And ancient dalesmen of the north,

That leave your dales, and the sweet brown earth,

Are country acres so decreased,

And Cumbrian fells no longer ringing

With bleating lambs, and blackbirds singing?—

“We go to taste

Of London feast.”

O sailor lads, that love the sea,

Are you, too, of this company?—

The shifting wind ’s no longer east;

Yet you have put the helm about,

To come ashore, and join the rout?—

“We go to taste

Of London feast.”

Too late, my golden mariners!

I have seen there these many years,

How Most grew more, and less grew Least;

And now you go too late; the board

Cannot one crumb to you afford:

You cannot taste

Of London feast.

Too late, dear children of the sun;

For London Feast is past and gone!

I sat it out, and now released

Make westward from its weary gate.

Fools and unwise, you are too late:

“We go to taste

Of London feast.”

They did not heed, they would not stay;

I saw the dust on London way

By denser thousands still increased:

My cry was vain. As they went by

Their murmur ran, for all reply:—

“We go to taste

Of London feast.”