A Shropshire Lad LXII: "Terence, this is stupid stuff

1"Terence, this is stupid stuff:
2You eat your victuals fast enough;
3There can't be much amiss, 'tis clear,
4To see the rate you drink your beer.
5But oh, good Lord, the verse you make,
6It gives a chap the belly-ache.
7The cow, the old cow, she is dead;
8It sleeps well, the horned head:
9We poor lads, 'tis our turn now
10To hear such tunes as killed the cow.
11Pretty friendship 'tis to rhyme
12Your friends to death before their time
13Moping melancholy mad:
14Come, pipe a tune to dance to, lad."
15Why, if 'tis dancing you would be,
16There's brisker pipes than poetry.
17Say, for what were hop-yards meant,
18Or why was Burton built on Trent?
19Oh many a peer of England brews
20Livelier liquor than the Muse,
21And malt does more than Milton can
22To justify God's ways to man.
23Ale, man, ale's the stuff to drink
24For fellows whom it hurts to think:
25Look into the pewter pot
26To see the world as the world's not.
27And faith, 'tis pleasant till 'tis past:
28The mischief is that 'twill not last.
29Oh I have been to Ludlow fair
30And left my necktie God knows where,
31And carried half way home, or near,
32Pints and quarts of Ludlow beer:
33Then the world seemed none so bad,
34And I myself a sterling lad;
35And down in lovely muck I've lain,
36Happy till I woke again.
37Then I saw the morning sky:
38Heigho, the tale was all a lie;
39The world, it was the old world yet,
40I was I, my things were wet,
41And nothing now remained to do
42But begin the game anew.
43Therefore, since the world has still
44Much good, but much less good than ill,
45And while the sun and moon endure
46Luck's a chance, but trouble's sure,
47I'd face it as a wise man would,
48And train for ill and not for good.
49'Tis true, the stuff I bring for sale
50Is not so brisk a brew as ale:
51Out of a stem that scored the hand
52I wrung it in a weary land.
53But take it: if the smack is sour,
54The better for the embittered hour;
55It should do good to heart and head
56When your soul is in my soul's stead;
57And I will friend you, if I may,
58In the dark and cloudy day.
59There was a king reigned in the east:
60There, when kings will sit to feast,
61They get their fill before they think
62With poisoned meat and poisoned drink.
63He gathered all that springs to birth
64From the many-venomed earth;
65First a little, thence to more,
66He sampled all her killing store;
67And easy, smiling, seasoned sound,
68Sate the king when healths went round.
69They put arsenic in his meat
70And stared aghast to watch him eat;
71They poured strychnine in his cup
72And shook to see him drink it up:
73They shook, they stared as white's their shirt:
74Them it was their poison hurt.
75--I tell the tale that I heard told.
76Mithridates, he died old.
Original Text: 
A. E. Housman, A Shropshire Lad (London: Kegan Paul, Trench, Trübner, & Co., 1896): 91-94. del H68 S551896 Fisher Rare Book Library
Publication Start Year: 
1896
RPO poem Editors: 
Ian Lancashire
RPO Edition: 
RPO 1996-2000.
Rhyme: