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A Shropshire Lad (eBook)

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A Shropshire Lad was first published, at Housman's own expense, in 1896 after several publishers had turned it down. At first the book sold slowly, but during the Second Boer War, Housman's nostalgic depiction of rural life, the book became a bestseller The main theme of ""A Shropshire Lad"" is mortality, and advice about how we live our lives since death can come in anyti A Shropshire Lad was first published, at Housman's own expense, in 1896 after several publishers had turned it down. At first the book sold slowly, but during the Second Boer War, Housman's nostalgic depiction of rural life, the book became a bestseller The main theme of ""A Shropshire Lad"" is mortality, and advice about how we live our lives since death can come in anytime.


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A Shropshire Lad was first published, at Housman's own expense, in 1896 after several publishers had turned it down. At first the book sold slowly, but during the Second Boer War, Housman's nostalgic depiction of rural life, the book became a bestseller The main theme of ""A Shropshire Lad"" is mortality, and advice about how we live our lives since death can come in anyti A Shropshire Lad was first published, at Housman's own expense, in 1896 after several publishers had turned it down. At first the book sold slowly, but during the Second Boer War, Housman's nostalgic depiction of rural life, the book became a bestseller The main theme of ""A Shropshire Lad"" is mortality, and advice about how we live our lives since death can come in anytime.

30 review for A Shropshire Lad (eBook)

  1. 4 out of 5

    Bill Kerwin

    The much-anthologized lyrics everyone remembers from this slim volume are memorable for their delicate music and Attic restraint, but many of the sixty-three poems contained herein are pretty forgettable; reiterating the familiar themes of youthful beauty and early death without deepening or enriching them, they often veer dangerously close to self-parody. Still . . . "Loveliest of trees, the cherry now," "To an Athlete Dying Young," "Bredon Hill," "With rue may heart is laden," "Is my team plou The much-anthologized lyrics everyone remembers from this slim volume are memorable for their delicate music and Attic restraint, but many of the sixty-three poems contained herein are pretty forgettable; reiterating the familiar themes of youthful beauty and early death without deepening or enriching them, they often veer dangerously close to self-parody. Still . . . "Loveliest of trees, the cherry now," "To an Athlete Dying Young," "Bredon Hill," "With rue may heart is laden," "Is my team ploughing" and a handful of others are as lovely and deathless as anything in the Greek Anthology. And that is enough. I did find a few new gems . . . a lyric with the wonderful phrase "the blue remembered hills" and this, one of the loveliest combinations of sounds I have ever heard: "White in the moon the long road lies, The moon stands blank above. White in the moon the long road lies That leads me from my love." Also . . . I was very moved by the lyric below, which is almost certainly a reference to homosexual desire--something Housman would have had to conceal in the late Victorian world in which he lived: "Others, I am not the first, Have willed more mischief than they durst: If in the breathless night I too Shiver now, 'tis nothing new. "More than I, if truth were told, Have stood and sweated hot and cold, And through their reins in ice and fire Fear contended with desire. "Agued once like me were they, But I like them shall win my way Lastly to the bed of mould Where there's neither heat nor cold."

  2. 4 out of 5

    Manybooks

    I was first introduced to the exquisite poetry of A.E. Housman in my grade ten English class (where we covered British literature from Beowulf to the early 20th century, and oh, how I enjoyed that class). I started to appreciate Housman's poetry then, but I started to really love his poetry when I listened to George Butterworth's lovely and evocative song-cycle rendition of A Shropshire Lad and realisesd that Housman's poems are not just meant to be read, but really and truly are meant to be sun I was first introduced to the exquisite poetry of A.E. Housman in my grade ten English class (where we covered British literature from Beowulf to the early 20th century, and oh, how I enjoyed that class). I started to appreciate Housman's poetry then, but I started to really love his poetry when I listened to George Butterworth's lovely and evocative song-cycle rendition of A Shropshire Lad and realisesd that Housman's poems are not just meant to be read, but really and truly are meant to be sung, to be listened to as musical offerings (offerings showing joy, simplicity, but also the anguish of lost love, of growing up, and of destructive, manipulative war, which has the horrific power to destroy whole bastions of young men). And I just recently and with much joy learned that one of A.E. Houseman's man literary influences was 19th century German poet Heinrich Heine (and considering how much I have always adored Heine's poetry and that even as a child and teenager, his folksong adaptations were amongst my personal favourites, it is no surprise to me at all and whatsoever that Houseman quickly also became and has steadfastly remained one of my very very favourite British poets bar none, and one whose verses I most highly and glowingly recommend).

  3. 5 out of 5

    Bettie

    http://www.gutenberg.org/files/5720/5... Picked this up today because I am grieving Endeavour Morse who used to quote from this collection often through the course of his career. Sixty-three tiny poems urging us to seize the day, not let life just run out without giving all.IV: REVEILLE Wake: the silver dusk returning Up the beach of darkness brims, And the ship of sunrise burning Strands upon the eastern rims. Wake: the vaulted shadow shatters, Trampled to the floor it spanned, And the tent of http://www.gutenberg.org/files/5720/5... Picked this up today because I am grieving Endeavour Morse who used to quote from this collection often through the course of his career. Sixty-three tiny poems urging us to seize the day, not let life just run out without giving all.IV: REVEILLE Wake: the silver dusk returning Up the beach of darkness brims, And the ship of sunrise burning Strands upon the eastern rims. Wake: the vaulted shadow shatters, Trampled to the floor it spanned, And the tent of night in tatters Straws the sky-pavilioned land. Up, lad, up, 'tis late for lying: Hear the drums of morning play; Hark, the empty highways crying "Who'll beyond the hills away?" Towns and countries woo together, Forelands beacon, belfries call; Never lad that trod on leather Lived to feast his heart with all. Up, lad: thews that lie and cumber Sunlit pallets never thrive; Morns abed and daylight slumber Were not meant for man alive. Clay lies still, but blood's a rover; Breath's a ware that will not keep Up, lad: when the journey's over There'll be time enough to sleep. So unlike Houseman's Young Lads, at least Morse made it past his early twenties before he laid down to sleep the sleep. ETA - the title is mispelt on grrramazon

  4. 5 out of 5

    Sandy

    Once I got through the rather dismal first 15 or 20 poems, I quite enjoyed this classic collection. From dreary images of murders, hangings, and suicides, there was a gradual shift to a more lighthearted - if somewhat cynical - tone which was underscored by the rhythmic lilt of the verse. I began to read these poems in an effort to locate the one poem which purportedly inspired the title of the award-winning novel Earth and High Heaven (by Canadian author Gwethalyn Graham). The exact phrase is fo Once I got through the rather dismal first 15 or 20 poems, I quite enjoyed this classic collection. From dreary images of murders, hangings, and suicides, there was a gradual shift to a more lighthearted - if somewhat cynical - tone which was underscored by the rhythmic lilt of the verse. I began to read these poems in an effort to locate the one poem which purportedly inspired the title of the award-winning novel Earth and High Heaven (by Canadian author Gwethalyn Graham). The exact phrase is found in poem number 48 (very few of the poems have titles). Be still, my soul, be still; the arms you bear are brittle,            Earth and high heaven are fixt of old and founded strong.           Think rather,-call to thought, if now you grieve a little,            The days when we had rest, O soul, for they were long. I have yet to figure out how the words connect the two - poem and book - but I have plenty of time to ponder that question. Seldom do I find even one poem which I want to read and re-read, and here is an entire collection. I feel so fortunate! The overarching message of the poems is one which I personally need to hear at this point in time, that message being (as I interpret it) that for humans death, whenever and however it comes, is inevitable and not necessarily loathesome.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Paquita Maria Sanchez

    Be forewarned: this review is less about this book than maybe any review on this site has EVER not been about a book (exaggeration is my thing, as of late.) I read this short collection of poems, and I wanted to really turn your heads around in circles with my insightful analysis of its varying components. To tell you all about who Housman was, what he intended to tell you, how/why you should read these poems, and maybe even how you should feel about them. Straight-up-deep-dopeshit. This I canno Be forewarned: this review is less about this book than maybe any review on this site has EVER not been about a book (exaggeration is my thing, as of late.) I read this short collection of poems, and I wanted to really turn your heads around in circles with my insightful analysis of its varying components. To tell you all about who Housman was, what he intended to tell you, how/why you should read these poems, and maybe even how you should feel about them. Straight-up-deep-dopeshit. This I cannot do for you today. There are some written-word poets that I adore, sure. However, most of the poetry that I read and relate to on a deep, guttural level tends to manifest itself in the form of song lyrics. I realize what I am saying may have already lead to some upturned noses. I know there are a lot of people in this world that cling to (often QUITE dated) poetry of ages-old, who firmly believe that everything that CAN be said HAS been said, and that it is all, at this point, regurgitation. I beg to differ. When I read a piece/collection of old poetry, I oftentimes see a crude (though indeed more lengthy) sketch of what's to come in the realm of written expression. Additionally (if somehow a lot of people failed to notice) our world continues to expand further and further out, leaving gaping cracks within itself that tend to fill with additional complexities, ad nauseam. Therefore, there is always something new to say, because there is always something new happening, some ground-breaking depth of hideousness or high of wonderful to claw at in order to shake out the most bare-bones words to even begin to grasp and express the meaning of this that is our constantly shape-shifting state of confused tug-of-war-existence. To put it "simply," I feel like in a lot of ways, the modern lyrics that I most relate to are designed in order to strip emotions down and show a simple truth hidden in the mess of static that is the over-saturation of today. This is perhaps why I may relate so much to things like anti-folk and lyrically simplistic music in general. Every day is so loud, so intense...sometimes it's nice to just breath and be talked to as if the musician carried the voice of your mother reading you a simple fairy tale. To have someone get real with you, to strip language of its flowery edge and just call it straight. I mean, we all know that we are infinitely complex beings. Even the most simple-minded person has a chain of events leading them to that point, and it is oftentimes a quite sad and compelling one. All the same AND in short, we all strip down to the same bit of mess. Bones and breath. Flesh and blood and nonsense groping around for a grounding. You may be confused. I am not talking about this poetry book...reason being that, while the poems are quite beautiful, and certainly concern a number of the existential quandaries mentioned above, they are not sculpted for the me of today. Certain movements in the symphony that is this book did indeed tug at my heart and make me question myself, my feelings, my sense of the world and its complexities, etc. However, it was mostly in a way that lead me to start thinking about the numerous other and arguably more beautiful ways that the same thing has been said, yet more recently, relevantly, and simply. I mean no harsh judgment on this book, despite my tone. It is just not the one for me at this time and in this place. Rather than swim in a sea of flowery words and float off into a hazy tangent of "ergo," I want poetry to smack me. Punch me, even. This is why I find solace in songs... The notion of the notion of love. A strange thing, indeed, and the subject of much of this short collection of poems. While Housman makes some beautiful (insert your preferred synonym for this generic adjective) observations about "LOVE HEART HEART," I still feel that it is lost in verbosity. Being of a brusk temperament in general, I prefer the more cut and dry, as I feel that we really can be just that simple. Especially when it comes to our most basic instincts. One of the greatest lyrics I have ever read FOR ME PERSONALLY at THAT PARTICULAR TIME that I read it was Stuart Murdoch's simple admission "You say I've got another face. That's not a fault of mine these days. I'm honest, brutal, and afraid of you." The people that I most relate to as poets...that I feel the deepest kinship with and consider heroes, are the people who aren't afraid to tear the veil away and just call it as they see it. Shoot the fish in the barrel. To say that "it walks like a duck and talks like a duck so it must be a duck" and all that shit. There is something refreshingly true about it all. It's so rare that we find people who will just TALK TO US like we are people rather than ancillary components of hazy day-to-day life. Cogs in a wheel. I can't relate to Housman's poetry like I can relate to someone like Jeffrey Lewis or Bob Dylan or Kyle Field (Little Wings!) Maybe I am simple-minded. Whatever. At least I get to know myself a little, and not as a riddle...as a tick-tac-toe game, at best. All the same, modern music suits my pallet. Dated poetry often does not. Hallelujah, pomo and beyond! I will leave you with a song by one of my very, very favorite modern songwriters, a song with beautifully simplistic lyrics that relay what I am trying to say here about just saying it. Funny that I ran my mouth for so long on the subject of being succinct... Then I'd break the spell of change, And so to duly rearrange, The faces that you've seen before. And let the will of absence pour. The gravity will keep you near, Inside its arms that are so clear that You may never even see them, but Realize everything could be them. Up and down your chest will rise. There's no invisible disguise. Your face is open sky sometimes. Your chest a forest grown inside. Feed it, let it grow, and replicate. The universe, you know it has no weight. It waits for magnets, waits for gravity. So I know everything I have was sent for me. Unwrap it all and skin me. Climb on all the branches in me. Look through light and see me in it. Name the game so we can win it. And, everything, oh everything, In your cloaks you go, Disguising what you work through, Talking to me as I go. And, become my life, become my time. Become that year that's never mine. Let that come through, let glory shine. Grow up and feel the change inside. Expand, expand like land horizon. Sponge and water soak the skies in. Intake through what brought you by breathing Life into the life you're leading. First came dust and light, So it's late at night, And I can see the first thing in your Headlights while we drive. And we pull over. I am sober. My face looks older. You touch my shoulder. Now you've seen me. Now I've seen you. Now we try somehow to share the time That we've been through. And, I could feel the brains were born anew, Anew by light of morning, walking In the skin that grew. It grew me and I grew it too. It knew me and I knew it too. And no one feels the day go through Exactly in the way I do. That's what makes me, me, and you, you. And I can be what makes me. And you won't be what breaks me. And I can wait for all that wakes me, In the way I've always done. I'm finding out what chose me, How to use the hand that rose me, How to sing the word that woes me. In a way I've just begun. In a way I've just begun unraveling This costume at the seams that I design. I know it inside out. I know the chill its end may bring. But whenever I am here, I am aware of everything. I'm something I can understand. I am the sky, I am the land. I am the foot, I am the hand. I am the wave headed for sand. I am the cattle and the brand. I am the souvenir stand. I am the hometown, local band. I am the mic, I am the stand, I'm everybody.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Steve Hjerrild

    I think I never want to see Another stanza by A.E. I pity now the friends of Terence, And eke his siblings, pets and parents. For oh, good Lord the verse he made-- Too grim and too much in the shade: The doomstruck lad, the Severn missed, The Ludlow fair where he got pissed, The London blues, the snow-hung orchard, Young life cut short in syntax tortured, And favorite of all his themes, The Shropshire schoolboy's martial dreams. Brave verse to stop a soldier shirking By one whose work was patent-clerking. "St I think I never want to see Another stanza by A.E. I pity now the friends of Terence, And eke his siblings, pets and parents. For oh, good Lord the verse he made-- Too grim and too much in the shade: The doomstruck lad, the Severn missed, The Ludlow fair where he got pissed, The London blues, the snow-hung orchard, Young life cut short in syntax tortured, And favorite of all his themes, The Shropshire schoolboy's martial dreams. Brave verse to stop a soldier shirking By one whose work was patent-clerking. "Stand up, be brave, lad, if you please, So poets here may live at ease. "And we shall rhyme and wring our hands When you're cashiered in distant lands. For really, 'tis not bad, the grave-- No care, no pain, no need to shave. "So blah blah blah by Severnside, And good for you, young suicide." Well, he's dead too, now, old A.E. Arrived where he most longed to be. What's done is done, some good, much bad, But still he toils, this Shropshire lad, Producing yet from under plow Some wholesome grass for Shropshire cow.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Jim

    As a lad I was very fond of one of Housman's poems, Reveille, because it was upbeat and inspirational: " Up, lad: thews that lie and cumber Sunlit pallets never thrive; Morns abed and daylight slumber Were not meant for man alive. So when I received my copy of the Folio edition of this book, I expected more of the same. Boy, was I right out to lunch! What utter doom and gloom! Death is present in real or allegorical form in just about every poem. I had never read anything like it from the pen of As a lad I was very fond of one of Housman's poems, Reveille, because it was upbeat and inspirational: " Up, lad: thews that lie and cumber Sunlit pallets never thrive; Morns abed and daylight slumber Were not meant for man alive. So when I received my copy of the Folio edition of this book, I expected more of the same. Boy, was I right out to lunch! What utter doom and gloom! Death is present in real or allegorical form in just about every poem. I had never read anything like it from the pen of any other poet. Sure, sometimes your average poet gets a little down and writes some gloomy or remorseful tirade on the way his little feelings were hurt, but then he'll get lucky one night and be writing about plucking pansies the next day. Believe me, judging by his poems, Housman NEVER got lucky a single night in his life. Death was the one constant factor in his work. Many went like this: you are going to die and your best friend will be poking your girlfriend. Then he would try a variation: your best friend will die and you'll be poking HIS girlfriend. It wasn't until Housman actually started advocating suicide that the light started to glimmer for me. I Googled Housman and, sure enough, he was a homosexual. On top of that, in Housman's era homosexual acts were illegal and, if caught, you could go to prison where you would be unable to commit homosexual acts, according to the thinking of the time. Presumably, if he lived in this day and age, where homosexuality is practically compulsory, Housman wouldn't have written a darn thing. With my newfound knowledge, I had another go at Housman's work and forewarned is definitely forearmed in this case. In an era where you could be ruined for even suggesting homosexual inclinations, Housman was heartbroken and frustrated; the gloominess of his poems made much more sense. Although Housman's stanzas are very carefully constructed and his poems easily understood, I found that there was just too much misery as the prevailing theme for his work. It is a short volume, easily read and understood, and the Folio edition is very nicely constructed.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Michael

    My expectations for this poem cycle were confounded. I'd got it into my head that A Shropshire Lad was a rural idyll about bucolic farm boys, milk maids and nostalgic reveries about "blue remembered hills". As there is practically none of that ("blue remembered hills" notwithstanding), I'd obviously constructed this false image myself based on nothing more than the title of the collection. Now, that's a bit of a shame as I was in the mood for (had a need for, in fact) a bit of idylic escapism to My expectations for this poem cycle were confounded. I'd got it into my head that A Shropshire Lad was a rural idyll about bucolic farm boys, milk maids and nostalgic reveries about "blue remembered hills". As there is practically none of that ("blue remembered hills" notwithstanding), I'd obviously constructed this false image myself based on nothing more than the title of the collection. Now, that's a bit of a shame as I was in the mood for (had a need for, in fact) a bit of idylic escapism to lift my mood. What Housman serves up instead is a series of poems of which the majority deal with death, sometimes by way of poetical allusion (autumnal trees shedding leaves, that sort of thing), thigh often directly stated. War is present in some poems, but mostly death simply stalks the countryside, or the city-bound country boy pining for his home fields. A few of the poems pay with the idea of the dead visiting the living, only to find their sweetheart in the arms of their best friend. These melancholy musings are not without their charm, though not exactly what I had in mind as a tonic (fortunately, Keats's remedy of getting out into nature was available to me). However, Housman goes rather further in a couple of poems, encouraging his 'lad' to die by suicide, and in one poem worthy of Poe, his 'lad' (there must be several of them, and presumably Shropshire must have been rather depopulated of young men if Housman is to be taken literally) actually cuts his own throat while on a date with his girlfriend. Some of the poems remind me of Khayyám-FitzGerald's preoccupation with mortality and the transience of life, and with the consolations of alcohol. The are some quatrains in Housman's collection but, as far as my amateur reading can tell, no deliberate imitation of the Rubáiyát. First published in 1896, I wonder whether the late Victorian morbid (from a modern perspective) relationship with death, and their often melodramatic sentimentality feeds into Housman's rather dark vision of life's ephemeral nature. How much was England and the Empire overshadowed by the growing inevitability of the death of the Old Queen? The impending death of the seemingly ever-present and eternal Victoria signalling the decease of a way of life, a break in cultural continuity, the end of days? Overall, an uneven (but enjoyable) collection, I think, though highly praised by J.R.R. Tolkien, who's probably a better judge than I. I'll read the poems again when I'm in a brighter mood and see whether the poems which aren't about death and shagging your dead mate's girlfriend make more of an impression on me.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Andrea Zuvich

    Nice poetry, though not my favourite kind. 'Tis a shame I didn't read it when I lived in Clungunford, Shropshire (mentioned in this work). It is a very short read, and can be done in one sitting.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Erik Graff

    It has been claimed that this collection was that most popularly carried by British troops into WWI. Housman, according to Wikipedia, declined royalties in order to make it available in cheap, compact editions. It is certainly a work focused on youth, on love, on war and the transience of life. I read the poems aloud with the owner of Heirloom Books in Chicago over a period of several days, alternating from one to the next, occasionally discussing the content, especially when it was obscure to on It has been claimed that this collection was that most popularly carried by British troops into WWI. Housman, according to Wikipedia, declined royalties in order to make it available in cheap, compact editions. It is certainly a work focused on youth, on love, on war and the transience of life. I read the poems aloud with the owner of Heirloom Books in Chicago over a period of several days, alternating from one to the next, occasionally discussing the content, especially when it was obscure to one or both of us. Fortunately, most of it is clear enough. Poetry--and I've conservative, not terribly well informed, views about poetry--in its metrical forms displays its ancient affinity to music. Housman's not only maintains metre but also simple rhyme schemes. The trick in reading it aloud is to submerge the music in the sense, avoiding sing-songing it by following the punctuation, emphasizing the meaning of it above its subtle lyricism. Reading it well is challenging, writing such well is exceptionally so. Oh, and while it's said that Housman accompanied British troops, it's also been claimed that it was Nietzsche who accompanied their German adversaries. (Personally, I suspect the Bible might have had both authors beat.)

  11. 5 out of 5

    Melody

    8/2012 I come to Housman when I'm hollow, when I'm lost, when I'm confused. I come here when I need to come here, and he takes me in, he comforts me with snark, with acute observation, with hilarity and bottomless woe. There's nobody, nobody at all like Housman. I have entire swaths of this by heart, and generally read a poem or two at need. Today I read it cover to cover and was, once again, entirely blown away. 2010: What's to say of Housman? His words are like strange wine that changes one ut 8/2012 I come to Housman when I'm hollow, when I'm lost, when I'm confused. I come here when I need to come here, and he takes me in, he comforts me with snark, with acute observation, with hilarity and bottomless woe. There's nobody, nobody at all like Housman. I have entire swaths of this by heart, and generally read a poem or two at need. Today I read it cover to cover and was, once again, entirely blown away. 2010: What's to say of Housman? His words are like strange wine that changes one utterly once imbibed. "...that grace, that manhood gone..."

  12. 4 out of 5

    Jeana

    I’ve been slowly working through A.E. Housman’s poetry collection, A Shropshire Lad, and am finishing it up this morning, which is kind of perfect since it’s World Poetry Day! I loved A Shropshire Lad—it’s written simply but with an underlying darkness of death and the beauty of a boy’s memories of home.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Ronald Wise

    This cycle of 63 short poems at first seems to wander from topic to topic with frequent visits to the grave, but in the end I was left with the impression of it as a masterful collective whole. The first poem had me fearing I would have to struggle through archaic phrases, regionalisms, or poetic abstractions. But with the Oxford English Dictionary loaded on my computer, I soon found myself enjoying Housman's verse for his unusual vocabulary and its creative (or was it old-fashioned) use. His foc This cycle of 63 short poems at first seems to wander from topic to topic with frequent visits to the grave, but in the end I was left with the impression of it as a masterful collective whole. The first poem had me fearing I would have to struggle through archaic phrases, regionalisms, or poetic abstractions. But with the Oxford English Dictionary loaded on my computer, I soon found myself enjoying Housman's verse for his unusual vocabulary and its creative (or was it old-fashioned) use. His focus is on the lads of Shropshire, but through them he is really writing of youth, aging, memories of youth, and death. And all these human aspects in respect to the land and community that provided the source, the nourishment and support, a means of self-perpetuation, and eventually a soil to which one can return at death. Housman's treatment of death was refreshingly paradoxical. While emphasizing the finality - the physical confinement of the grave, the complete removal from the living world - he also treats death as repose... that there is some sort of awareness of the surrounding land and its people. The lads about whom the 40-year-old Housman writes are at the critical point where their paths can drastically diverge. A Shropshire man his age may look at the young lads swimming in the river and know that they are experiencing the exact same things he did at their age, or he may recall those lads who were called away to war and never returned, forever frozen in his mind as they were then, though long since phsyically buried and decayed in a strange, distant place. As I concluded poem LXIII, I felt as though my concepts of home and roots had been significantly re-arranged.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Emily

    Two of my favorites: XIII When I was one-and-twenty I heard a wise man say, "Give crowns and pounds and guineas But not your heart away; Give pearls away and rubies But keep your fancy free." But I was one-and-twenty, No use to talk to me. When I was one-and-twenty I heard him say again, "The heart out of the bosom Was never given in vain; 'Tis paid with sighs a plenty And sold for endless rue." And I am two-and-twenty, And oh, 'tis true, 'tis true. LX Now hollows fires burn out to black, And lights are gu Two of my favorites: XIII When I was one-and-twenty I heard a wise man say, "Give crowns and pounds and guineas But not your heart away; Give pearls away and rubies But keep your fancy free." But I was one-and-twenty, No use to talk to me. When I was one-and-twenty I heard him say again, "The heart out of the bosom Was never given in vain; 'Tis paid with sighs a plenty And sold for endless rue." And I am two-and-twenty, And oh, 'tis true, 'tis true. LX Now hollows fires burn out to black, And lights are guttering low: Square your shoulders, lift your pack, And leave your friends and go. Oh never fear, man, nought's to dread, Look not left nor right: In all the endless road you tread There's nothing but the night.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Melusina

    Absolutely wonderful. A slim poetry collection about death and loss that ranks among the best I have read in a long time. Some call it pathetic, I call it genius.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Eugenea Pollock

    I cannot “rate” this classic adequately. Nothing I could say would even come close to an informed evaluation of its significance. I read it in an attempt to understand why my late father brought it back from England after WWII and kept it for over 65 years. Having just finished it, I still don’t know for sure. It seems to be about male friendship/camaraderie, death/dying in war, grief and loss—not to mention scenes of execution, suicide... . Maybe that is the point. Poetry about happiness, flowe I cannot “rate” this classic adequately. Nothing I could say would even come close to an informed evaluation of its significance. I read it in an attempt to understand why my late father brought it back from England after WWII and kept it for over 65 years. Having just finished it, I still don’t know for sure. It seems to be about male friendship/camaraderie, death/dying in war, grief and loss—not to mention scenes of execution, suicide... . Maybe that is the point. Poetry about happiness, flowers, sunshine, etc., felt out of place in the naval hospital on the southwest coast of England where he was stationed, tending to the mental and physical war wounds of those evacuated from the battle zone. Could be.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Michael

    It seems a little otherworldly to read a book of highly formal, good-quality poetry that was a runaway bestseller appealing most strongly to young men. Worth reading if only for the shock of realizing how much influence it had on twentieth century popular literature. Bracingly morbid, but then Mithridates died old, and by gum A.E. Housman made it to 77 himself.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Spurnlad

    A great series of poems, but linger overlong on the grave I think. Worth it if only for XL: INTO my heart on air that kills From yon far country blows: What are those blue remembered hills, What spires, what farms are those? That is the land of lost content, 5 I see it shining plain, The happy highways where I went And cannot come again.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Peter

    The poetry was not bad, Housman knows how to vary the tempo and style to set the mood. In contrast to the crap that Emily Dickinson as thrown on paper. But what makes this book work is the stunning photography. Definately a book to spend a few hours with. It was worth putting a hold on my current reading. Arrived and read on the same day. Marvellous!

  20. 4 out of 5

    Gregg

    Deceptively simplistic, this collection ranges along the varied experiences and nuances of life itself. Love, death, defeat, fleeting victory, eventual demise and a general feeling of transience--A.E. Housman reminds us continually that we are but a page in a book we can never see entirely. Housman's Shropshire, in all its pastoral idyllic beauty, never existed any more than Margaret Mitchell's romanticized South, or even Hardy's Wessex. No matter. His themes are universal and readily accessible Deceptively simplistic, this collection ranges along the varied experiences and nuances of life itself. Love, death, defeat, fleeting victory, eventual demise and a general feeling of transience--A.E. Housman reminds us continually that we are but a page in a book we can never see entirely. Housman's Shropshire, in all its pastoral idyllic beauty, never existed any more than Margaret Mitchell's romanticized South, or even Hardy's Wessex. No matter. His themes are universal and readily accessible to us all. Substitute Shropshire for wherever you hold your dearest childhood memories, and you've got your own "fields and men we know by heart." Your own youthful loves and devotions become Rose Harland, who "walked with a better man" while "stock still lies Fred, and sleeps." And even if you never served a day of military duty in your life, just the very act of getting up Monday morning to go to work is enough to give certain lines an alternative, dare I say preferable, flavor: Wake: the vaulted shadow shatters, Trampled to the floor it spanned, And the tent of night in tatters Straws the sky-pavilioned land. Housman is at his best, I think, when he touches on the universality of human suffering. The figures in his poetry sometimes clash, sometimes are victorious, very often are defeated and dark, and yet the countryside continues. One poem points out that the struggles that inflamed the Roman breast ("now ashes under Uricon") are still present in the Englishman's breast today, and doubtless will be in the souls of whoever is (un)lucky enough to be standing on the ashes of his own existence. "The tree of man was never quiet," he reprimands us. "Then 'twas the Roman, now tis I." It's a mistake to see all this as a downer. Rather, it gives the sense of solidarity--we're going through what many have gone through; we are not alone in our solitude. In fact, Housman effectively disarms this criticism in the penultimate poem, where in his alter ego of Terence, he is accused by a friend of "moping melancholy mad" with "the verse you make." Terence refutes this criticism with a reminder that there are more effective ways to prepare for what must be endured than by avoiding it: Therefore, since the world has still Much good, but much less good than ill, And while the sun and moon endure Luck's a chance, but trouble's sure, I'd face it as a wise man would, And train for ill and not for good. Indeed, he follows his own advice. At the very end of the book, the "ashes" of the Roman he refers to earlier in the collection transcend into his own verse (this is how I see it, anyway). Our struggles are forgotten, yet since they're relived, they're always remembered, and so are we. In LXIII, he turns his advice (good advice, for the record) into "flowers" that he "hoed and trenched and weeded," giving some sense of the sheer efforts of creation: And fields will yearly bear them As light-leaved spring comes on, And luckless lads will wear them When I am dead and gone. In Why Read? Mark Edmundson wrote that "vital options" for the individual quest for truth in art "may be found for this or that individual in painting, in music, in sculpture, in teh arts of furniture making or gardening. Thoreau felt he could derive a substantial wisdom by tending his bean field." Add to this Housman's invented countryside, set in opposition to (or perhaps even mirroring) a world of war, work, weariness and eventual defeat, and you've got your truth, and then some.

  21. 5 out of 5

    James Miller

    I enjoyed much of this, but I couldn't quite get away with the attitude to war and patriotic self-sacrifice which would not I think be written today in the aftermath of Wilfred Owen etal. The passages on love (drawing on Ovid, and the Classical education does shine through both here and in the more Horace and Spartan understandings of Dulce... ) I found more congenial. The rural idyll full of death was good too. In the end though I was just left a bit unmoved by comparison with say Prufrock out I enjoyed much of this, but I couldn't quite get away with the attitude to war and patriotic self-sacrifice which would not I think be written today in the aftermath of Wilfred Owen etal. The passages on love (drawing on Ovid, and the Classical education does shine through both here and in the more Horace and Spartan understandings of Dulce... ) I found more congenial. The rural idyll full of death was good too. In the end though I was just left a bit unmoved by comparison with say Prufrock out the best of Cavafy.

  22. 4 out of 5

    jzthompson

    This wasn't at all what I was expecting. I think I vaguely knew that there was a lot of beautiful golden youth, dead before their time. I also vaguely knew - or thought I knew - that A Shropshire Lad had been packed into the rucksack of every WWI Tommy, a reminder of the arcadia they were defending in the hell of the trenches. I'm a 'Shropshire Lad' myself, and this is very much the image you pick up from the book's footprint on local culture: There's very little that's comforting in these poe This wasn't at all what I was expecting. I think I vaguely knew that there was a lot of beautiful golden youth, dead before their time. I also vaguely knew - or thought I knew - that A Shropshire Lad had been packed into the rucksack of every WWI Tommy, a reminder of the arcadia they were defending in the hell of the trenches. I'm a 'Shropshire Lad' myself, and this is very much the image you pick up from the book's footprint on local culture: There's very little that's comforting in these poems though. Indeed, there's something positively unwholesome at times about the relentless emphasis on death, thwarted desire, murder, and suicide: If by chance your eye offend you, Pluck it out, lad, and be sound: 'Twill hurt, but here are salves to friend you, And many a balsam grows on ground. And if your hand or foot offend you, Cut it off, lad, and be whole; But play the man, stand up and end you, When your sickness is your soul. This bleakness is leavened by flashes of mordant wit: OH, when I was in love with you, Then I was clean and brave, And miles around the wonder grew How well did I behave. And now the fancy passes by, And nothing will remain, And miles around they ’ll say that I Am quite myself again. and deft self-mockery: Terence, this is stupid stuff: You eat your victuals fast enough; There can’t be much amiss, ’tis clear, To see the rate you drink your beer. But oh, good Lord, the verse you make, It gives a chap the belly-ache. The cow, the old cow, she is dead; It sleeps well, the horned head: We poor lads, ’tis our turn now To hear such tunes as killed the cow. But these moments of self-lacerating humour are brief, and the general tone of the collection is one of oppressive melancholy. If this all sounds like I'm having a pop, I certainly don't mean to be. Melancholy is a good theme for poetry, and Housman's lyrical verse expresses it beautifully. There's something about poems like: INTO my heart on air that kills From yon far country blows: What are those blue remembered hills, What spires, what farms are those? That is the land of lost content, I see it shining plain, The happy highways where I went And cannot come again. That really puts the finger on some of the hardest parts of being human. It's true that not every verse here quite hits the mark. Housman must have been in a hurry to get somewhere when he decided: "Therefore, though the best is bad, Stand and do the best my lad; Stand and fight and see your slain, And take the bullet in your brain." Cut the mustard. But occasional clangers aside, it's easy to see why Housman was so admired, and why he's endured, but bloody hell, I hope those British Tommys had something else on hand to cheer them up.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Richard Smith

    I hadn’t realised that A Shropshire Lad is a whole series of poems. I knew well “those blue remembered hills…the land of lost content” and “loveliest of trees, the cherry now/Is hung with bloom along the bough, but I didn’t know the other 61 poems, although I must have bumped up against some of them. And I associated them with the First World War, imagining that they were written after the war and were filled with nostalgia for a world that was gone. They are filled with nostalgia for a world tha I hadn’t realised that A Shropshire Lad is a whole series of poems. I knew well “those blue remembered hills…the land of lost content” and “loveliest of trees, the cherry now/Is hung with bloom along the bough, but I didn’t know the other 61 poems, although I must have bumped up against some of them. And I associated them with the First World War, imagining that they were written after the war and were filled with nostalgia for a world that was gone. They are filled with nostalgia for a world that has gone (in a sense, never existed outside Houseman’s head) and of stories of Shropshire lads leaving and never returning, but they were published in 1896. They are—like Tennyson’s In Memoriam—poems inspired by loss, grief, and by repressed homosexual feelings. Houseman met Moses Jackson at Oxford, and they shared lodgings in London when they graduated. “Indubitably the greatest passion that Houseman ever felt for another individual was his love for…Jackson, writes D J Butterfield in an unpretentious introduction that adds to the poems.” Houseman left their lodgings suddenly in 1885 and disappeared for a week. Jackson moved to India. The only other collection of poems that Houseman published were Last Poems in 1922, and he sent those to Jackson who was dying of cancer in Canada. Houseman, a leading classicist, never married and never had another partner. The poems are all rhyming ballads, most in four line stanzas, and use simple language. They are easy to read but suffused with melancholy. Larkin called Houseman “the poet of unhappiness,” but I think melancholy a better word than unhappiness: the poems have that sad feel that I often get when walking in the countryside, perhaps because the past and the dead feel closer than in the business of the city. It’s not an unpleasant feeling; indeed, it’s a rich, real feeling. I will read the poems again before I die, if I have time.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Gwern

    A Shropshire Lad (8.3k words; 1.5 hours; Wikisource edition) A.E. Housman's first collection of 63 poems. I enjoy his terse, rhyming style of very short lines, which he somehow makes look easy and almost conversational, particularly poems II, IV, XXIII, XXX, XXXIII, XLIV, XLIX, LXII, LXIII; it's particularly impressive how completely consistent they all are with each other. This consistency meant that when I read the parodies quoted on Wikipedia, I found them very funny. It is short enough that th A Shropshire Lad (8.3k words; 1.5 hours; Wikisource edition) A.E. Housman's first collection of 63 poems. I enjoy his terse, rhyming style of very short lines, which he somehow makes look easy and almost conversational, particularly poems II, IV, XXIII, XXX, XXXIII, XLIV, XLIX, LXII, LXIII; it's particularly impressive how completely consistent they all are with each other. This consistency meant that when I read the parodies quoted on Wikipedia, I found them very funny. It is short enough that the themes of romantic love and death do not grow too wearying before the end, although I was not particularly taken with the patriotic poems, particularly in a collection published not all that long before WWI ("State is the name of the coldest of all cold monsters. Coldly it lies; and this lie slips from its mouth: 'I, the state, am the people.'"), but on the plus side, none of the complacent Christianity still in vogue at the time. Overall, a good collection. I will continue on to Housman's other collections.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Andrew

    This was a cursory visit of Housman's 63 poems over 200 days, but I lingered over Gareth B. Thomas's photos as long as I did the poems. There are scenes of the south Shropshire hills - where I live - which are as beautiful as any I have seen, yet few can be captured on the day you are amongst them as Thomas has. Housman's poems are wistful of exactly these images, as well as deeply melancholic of lost friends through wartime and wanton worseness. Although the two prevalent themes - loss, and lov This was a cursory visit of Housman's 63 poems over 200 days, but I lingered over Gareth B. Thomas's photos as long as I did the poems. There are scenes of the south Shropshire hills - where I live - which are as beautiful as any I have seen, yet few can be captured on the day you are amongst them as Thomas has. Housman's poems are wistful of exactly these images, as well as deeply melancholic of lost friends through wartime and wanton worseness. Although the two prevalent themes - loss, and love, whether of red-lipped roses or breathtaking landscapes - recur throughout, and though the moods of lightheartedness or loss dominate, it is in the mood cast by the phrasing of some of the most meaningful poetry that you find something indelible. I have myself sought these blue remembered hills again after 40 years away and the pleasures of exploring them are now a fundamental feature of my life. So too, inevitably, is Housman, whom I shall visit - if not quite as often - frequently in the future.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Cooper Renner

    I don't remember if I first encountered Housman's poetry in high school or college. And I've probably read most, if not all, of these poems before, some of them more than once. Reading it straight through now (which I may well have done before). Certainly one's younger self is probably drawn to the melancholy, but the strong usage of the folk/hymnal quatrain is greatly appealing to me as the quatrain is probably my favorite formal stanza. ## Not every poem is perfect, but Housman's batting average I don't remember if I first encountered Housman's poetry in high school or college. And I've probably read most, if not all, of these poems before, some of them more than once. Reading it straight through now (which I may well have done before). Certainly one's younger self is probably drawn to the melancholy, but the strong usage of the folk/hymnal quatrain is greatly appealing to me as the quatrain is probably my favorite formal stanza. ## Not every poem is perfect, but Housman's batting average is higher than most. Of course his breadth of subject matter is limited, but the music of his subject matter is first-rate, and the Stoic refusal to surrender to what looks to him like an ugly life is very powerful to those of a similar mindset. And, let's face it, there are very very few books of poetry which survive the passage of time intact, rather than being sampled into someone else's idea of that poet's "best of". A Shropshire Lad stands alongside Lyrical Ballads and Songs of Innocence and Experience as a lyrical whole.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Scott

    Moping, melancholy, mad ... an anthology of morose poems that lingers far too long on the themes of death and loss, A. E. Housman's A Shropshire Lad (1895) lay nearly forgotten until the outbreak of World War I, when its nostalgia, gloomy imagery, and fatal stoicism suited the tenor of the time. The poems, mostly cast as ballads, are easy to read and reminded me often both of Kipling's ballads and of some of Yeats' early work. But I was disappointed that Housman didn't develop his themes more el Moping, melancholy, mad ... an anthology of morose poems that lingers far too long on the themes of death and loss, A. E. Housman's A Shropshire Lad (1895) lay nearly forgotten until the outbreak of World War I, when its nostalgia, gloomy imagery, and fatal stoicism suited the tenor of the time. The poems, mostly cast as ballads, are easy to read and reminded me often both of Kipling's ballads and of some of Yeats' early work. But I was disappointed that Housman didn't develop his themes more elaborately: the collection seemed like one predictable poem about the death of a young man after another. The book's humor is generally grim and subdued, and the whole collection would have left me with a pretty sour taste in my mouth if it weren't for the second-to-last poem, "Terence, this is stupid stuff." A paeon to drink, this poem's colloquial voice, humor, and irony were refreshing after too long a slog through the landscape of graveyards and gallows.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Jean

    For poetry month I pulled this copy off my shelf and started reading a few poems each day. I was introduced to Housman in freshman lit in college and have loved his poems ever since. But I found that a lot of time has passed in the 40+ years since I first read about the "cherry trees hung with snow." And I found that I had a different, more melancholy reaction to this poem and to his other poems, most of which deal with death, loss and longing for home. I still love Housman, but in a whole diffe For poetry month I pulled this copy off my shelf and started reading a few poems each day. I was introduced to Housman in freshman lit in college and have loved his poems ever since. But I found that a lot of time has passed in the 40+ years since I first read about the "cherry trees hung with snow." And I found that I had a different, more melancholy reaction to this poem and to his other poems, most of which deal with death, loss and longing for home. I still love Housman, but in a whole different way now.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Nikki

    I knew so many of these poems without realising it. My favourite is the one that begins: "White in the moon the long road lies..."

  30. 4 out of 5

    Sophie

    I read the whole book aloud, in the backyard, on the swingset. It was lovely.

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