Is my team ploughing

A Shropshire Lad

V “Is my team ploughing, C Q
That I was used to drive
And hear the harness jingle
When I was man alive?”
Ay, the horses trample, 5
The harness jingles now;
No change though you lie under
The land you used to plough.
“Is football playing
V Along the river shore, 10
With lads to chase the leather, C
Now I stand up no more?”
Ay, the ball is flying,
The lads play heart and soul;
The goal stands up, the keeper 15
Stands up to keep the goal.
V “Is my girl happy,
V That I thought hard to leave,
V And has she tired of weeping Q
V As she lies down at eve?” 20
V Ay, she lies down lightly, Q
V She lies not down to weep:
Your girl is well contented.
V Be still, my lad, and sleep.
“Is my friend hearty, 25
V Now I am thin and pine,
V And has he found to sleep in
A better bed than mine?”
V Yes, lad, I lie easy, Q
V I lie as lads would choose; 30
I cheer a dead man’s sweetheart, Q
Never ask me whose.
Key: V: Textual Variation. C: Commentary. Q: Question. Glossary


ASL XXVII “Is my team ploughing”

Top ▲ Glossary

Line Word Glossary
26 pine As an intransitive verb:
1. To long for somebody or something, especially somebody or something unattainable
2. To become weak and lose vitality as a result of grief or longing
But consider that pine is one wood traditionally used in the manufacture of coffins


Top ▲ Commentary

Line Commentary
Date: May – July 1895 (1st draft), 10 Aug – 30 Sept 1895 (2nd draft)
11 “leather” ie the football
1, 9, 17, 25 Note that the voice of the dead lover begins each question in the same way; the first lines of these stanzas are irregular, both in terms of the number of syllables and the rhythm
meter Four line stanzas, mainly of six syllables (iambic trimeter), although the first lines of a number of stanzas are irregular, both in terms of the number of syllables and the rhythm


Top ▲ Variations

Line Text Textual variation
Title D1 No title
1 D1 my] \ <the> /
10 D2 Along] <Beside> \ <Against> /
17 D1 girl happy] <love contented>
18 D1 thought hard] <was sad>
19 D1 And lies she down \ is her heart / contented And do her tears fall fewer
19 D2d1 <And has she ceased from crying> \ And [ ? ] >/
19 D2d2 <And turns she soon to slumber> \ And does she weep \ cry / no longer
19 D2d3 \ And has she <ceased her crying> \ tired of weeping /
20 D1 <Late \ <Wept> / in the fading eve?> <At to-shut of the eve?>
20 D1d2 <At to fall of the eve>
20 D2d2 <When> \ As / she lies down at eve?
21 D2 Ay, <<her> heart [ ? ] \ <tears are fewer> / \ she lies down lightly, / grief’s forgotten,>
22 D1 <Be sure> <s> She does not \ think to / weep She turns no more \ seldom thinks / to weep; \ She’s long left off to weep /
22 D2 <She lies not down to weep;> \ She lies not down to weep;/ <She does not wake to weep> \ She [?does not] wake to weep /
24 D1 Be] Lie
26 D1 <To see the daylight shine> Now I am thin and pine
27 D1 And has] <[H]as> \ [A]nd / has
29 D1 lie]
30 D1 lie] sleep


Top ▲ Questions

Line Question
1, 9, 17, 25 What is the effect of the fact that the first lines of these stanzas are irregular, both in terms of the number of syllables and the rhythm?
19-22 Using the notes on the textual variations of these lines, reconstruct the various versions and consider the merits of each. In what ways is the final version superior?
21 What do you understand by the poet’s use of the word “lightly“?
29 Why does this final reply begin with a different word from all the others? How is the hesitancy in his answer demonstrated through the structure of the stanza
29-30 In both these lines, the poet changes “sleep” in the drafts to “lie” in the final version. What is the effect of a) the word change and b) the repetition?
32 Explore the humour of this poem.