The Rolling English Road
- Before the Roman came to Rye or out to Severn strode,
- The rolling English drunkard made the rolling English road.
- A reeling road, a rolling road, that rambles round the shire,
- And after him the parson ran, the sexton and the squire;
- A merry road, a mazy road, and such as we did tread
- The night we went to Birmingham by way of Beachy Head.
- I knew no harm of Bonaparte and plenty of the Squire,
- And for to fight the Frenchman I did not much desire;
- But I did bash their baggonets because they came arrayed
- To straighten out the crooked road an English drunkard made,
- Where you and I went down the lane with ale-mugs in our hands,
- The night we went to Glastonbury by way of Goodwin Sands.
- His sins they were forgiven him; or why do flowers run
- Behind him; and the hedges all strengthening in the sun?
- The wild thing went from left to right and knew not which was which,
- But the wild rose was above him when they found him in the ditch.
- God pardon us, nor harden us; we did not see so clear
- The night we went to Bannockburn by way of Brighton Pier.
- My friends, we will not go again or ape an ancient rage,
- Or stretch the folly of our youth to be the shame of age,
- But walk with clearer eyes and ears this path that wandereth,
- And see undrugged in evening light the decent inn of death;
- For there is good news yet to hear and fine things to be seen,
- Before we go to Paradise by way of Kensal Green.
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Last modified: 21st April, 1998
De Montfort University, Leicester.