First World War Poetry Digital Archive

The Barn

THE BARN by EDWARD THOMAS

They should never have built a barn there, at all--- Drip, drip, drip!---under that elm tree, Though then it was young. Now it is old But good, not like the barn and me.

Tomorrow they cut it down. They will leave The barn, as I shall be left, maybe. What holds it up? 'Twould not pay to pull down. Well, this place has no other antiquity.

No abbey or castle looks so old As this that Job Knight built in '54, Built to keep corn for rats and men. Now there's fowls in the roof, pigs on the floor.

What thatch survives is dung for the grass, The best grass on the farm. A pity the roof Will not bear a mower to mow it. But Only fowls have foothold enough.

Starlings used to sit there with bubbling throats Making a spiky beard as they chattered And whistled and kissed, with heads in air, Till they thought of something else that mattered.

But now they cannot find a place, Among all those holes, for a nest any more. It's the turn of lesser things, I suppose. Once I fancied 'twas starlings they built it for.

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