The Lads in thier hundreds set by Butterworth

With the start of the commemoration of ww1 I thought I woudl post this setting by a chap called butterworth of poem that a friend shared with me.

The lads in their hundreds to Ludlow come in for the fair,
There’s men from the barn and the forge and the mill and the fold,
The lads for the girls and the lads for the liquor are there,
And there with the rest are the lads that will never be old.

There’s chaps from the town and the field and the till and the cart,
And many to count are the stalwart, and many the brave,
And many the handsome of face and the handsome of heart,
And few that will carry their looks or their truth to the grave.

I wish one could know them, I wish there were tokens to tell
The fortunate fellows that now you can never discern;
And then one could talk with them friendly and wish them farewell
And watch them depart on the way that they will not return.

But now you may stare as you like and there’s nothing to scan;
And brushing your elbow unguessed-at and not to be told
They carry back bright to the coiner the mintage of man,
The lads that will die in their glory and never be old

Butterworth was an interesting chap. He was directed by his parents to study law, but became interested in music and followed that instead. However, he never felt he did it well, and held a succession of music-related jobs (critic, teacher) whilst lacking the confidence to follow a career as a composer. He destroyed many of his compositions. When WWI broke out, he decided he had a role in life and signed up as a rank and file soldier immediately. Within a year he gained a commission and a reputation as a good leader. In 1916 he was awarded the Military Cross for his bravery in defending a trench, which was named after him. A week later he was shot in the head by a sniper and killed at the Somme, never knowing of his award.

Thanks to Phil for pointing this out

One comment

  1. Steven Welch · March 4, 2014

    Very interesting and moving.

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