Westward on the high-hilled plains

A Shropshire Lad

V Westward on the high-hilled plains C
Where for me the world began,
V Still, I think, in newer veins
V Frets the changeless blood of man. Q
V Now that other lads than I 5
Strip to bathe on Severn shore,
V They, no help, for all they try,
V Tread the mill I trod before. Q
V There, when hueless is the west
V And the darkness hushes wide, 10
V Where the lad lies down to rest Q
V Stands the troubled dream beside.
V There, on thoughts that once were mine,
Day looks down the eastern steep,
And the youth at morning shine 15
Makes the vow he will not keep. Q
Key: V: Textual Variation. C: Commentary. Q: Question. Glossary


ASL LV “Westward on the high-hilled plains”

Top ▲ Glossary

Line Word Glossary
8 mill The treadmill, part of the “hard-labour” used as punishment in prison
9 hueless Colourless


Top ▲ Commentary

Line Commentary
Date: Jan 1895 (fragment), May-July 1895 (draft)
1 Westward: once again the emotional focus is to the west
meter Four line stanzas of seven syllables, rhymed alternately


Top ▲ Variations

Line Text Textual variation
1 D high-hilled] <hills and>
3 D I think,] \ be sure, <for sure>, /
4 D changeless] <ancient>
5 D lads] <men>
7 D <Other men,> \ They, I think, / for all they try, They<,> must needs, \ no help / for all they try <,>
8 D mill] <road<s>> \ round /
9 Dd1 <There when down the west>
9 Dd2 There, when ashen is the west
10 D darkness hushes] twilight \ darkness / hushes silence settles
11 Dd1 Still above the sleeping breast
11 Dd2 <Sure as \ <Still where> / lads lie down to rest> Where the lad lies down to rest>
12 Dd1 Stands] Bends
13 Dd1 There to clearer \ later / eyes than mine
13 Dd2 There to eyes that wake like mine \ clearer than / There on thoughts that once were mine


Top ▲ Questions

Line Question
4 Why do you think the poet preferred “changeless” to “ancient“? What does this alteration do to the meaning of the poem?
8 What does this line have to say about the human life?
9 What effect does the change from “ashen” to “hueless” have?
11 Compare the draft versions of this line:

a. Still above the sleeping breast

b. Sure as lads lie down to rest

c. Where the lad lies down to rest

With the final version: Where the lad lies down to rest. What are the merits of each?

16 How do you interpret the final line? What is the vow?