Alfred Austin

Away ye dull months! which no pleasure can yield
To the heart whose delight is the bat and the ball;
Restore me once more to the tent-covered field
And the shouts which rise high at each wicket's dread fall
Come, Health-giving pleasure! and light up the cheek
With roses which spring not from pastimes more weak.

Why mourn you the age of bright chivalry fled
While each knight of the bat has a fair one to win?
Why deem we that courage and honour of dead,
While cricket ennobles the young heart within?
Then, warriors prepare! For beauty's soft power
Your guerdon shall be in stern victory's hour.

One thought to the friends who are far on the brine
By the stout British oak born to regions of gold
May prosperity on them all smilingly shine,
And their feats in old England full often be told.
That though borne by the oak o'er the dark restless billow
They ne'er may forget its soft sister, the willow!

Taken from 'A Breathless Hush ...' : the MCC anthology of cricket verse, Methuen 2004.

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