Home Lad Home

Home Lad Home

I discovered this poem after hearing Paul Sartin, who performs as Belshazaar’s Feast with Paul Hutchinson singing it.

The poem so clearly evokes the world that many of the men and boys left behind for the terror of the trenches, and it’s this link with the countryside and everyday life that I find so moving.

The line And the lads sitting sideways, and singing as they go. could only have been written by someone who knew the small details of rural life in the early 20th century

You can hear Paul Sartin sing the song here.

Behind a trench in Flanders the sun was dropping low,
With tramp, and creak and jingle I heard the gun-teams go;
And something seemed to ‘mind me, a-dreaming as I lay,
Of my own old Hampshire village at the quiet end of day.

Brown thatch and gardens blooming with lily and with rose,
And the cool shining river so pleasant where he flows,
White fields of oats and barley, and elderflower like foam,
And the sky gold with sunset, and the horses going home!

(Home, lad, home, all among the corn and clover!
Home, lad, home when the time for work is over!
Oh there’s rest for horse and man when the longest day is done
And they go home together at setting of the sun!)

Old Captain, Prince and Blossom, I see them all so plain,
With tasseled ear-caps nodding along the leafy lane,
There’s a bird somewhere calling, and the swallow flying low,
And the lads sitting sideways, and singing as they go.

Well gone is many a lad now, and many a horse gone too,
Off all those lads and horses in those old fields I knew;
There’s Dick that died at Cuinchy and Prince beside the guns
On the red road of glory, a mile or two from Mons!

Dead lads and shadowy horses — I see them just the same,
I see them and I know them, and name them each by name,
Going down to shining waters when all the West’s a-glow,
And the lads sitting sideways and singing as they go.

(Home, lad, home . . . with the sunlight on their faces!
Home, lad, home . . . to those quiet happy places!
There’s rest for horse and man when the hardest fight is done,
And they go home together at setting of the sun!)
Author Notes

From SONGS AND CHANTIES 1914-1916, e
Edited by Cicely Fox Smith, published by Elkin Mathews, London, UK, © 1919, pp. 216-218.