Is My Team Ploughing?

"Is my team ploughing,
That I was used to drive
And hear the harness jingle
When I was man alive?

Aye, the horses trample,

The harness jingle now;
No change though you lie under
The land you used to plaugh.

"Is football playing

Along the river shore,
"With lads to chase the leather,
Now I stand up no more?"

Aye, the ball is flying,

The lads play heart and soul;
The goal stands up, the keeper
Stands up to keep the goal.

"Is my girl happy,

That I thought hard to leave,
And has she tired of weeping
As she lies down at eve?"

Aye, she lies down lightly,

She lies not down to weep:
Your girl is well contented.
Be still, my lad, and sleep.

"Is my friend hearty,

Now I am thin and pine;
And he has found to sleep in
A better bed than mine?"

Yes, lad i lie easy,

I lie as lads would choose;
I cheer a dead man's sweetheart,
Never ask me whose.

(A.E. Housman)

The word "bed" signifies literary the bed that leaving man sleeps, metaphorically the grave that the dead man lies in, and symbolically a lot in life, all condition of existence the word "sleep" has corresponding meanings of sleeping, of being dead, and of having certain lot. In addition it gathers up from the last stanza the meaning of sleeping with woman, that is, of making love.

The poem at first seems cynical, suggestiong, as it does, the transiance of human loyalities. On reflection, however, few people expect a man or woman not to remarry after a first mate has died.(Housman's poem probably doesn't refer to marriage, but the principle is the same). Housman's poetry is pessimistic about man's chances for happiness, but Housman is not cynical about human courage or human virtue.