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A Shropshire Lad and Other Poems: The Collected Poems of A. E. Housman
And since to look at things in bloom Fifty springs are little room, About the woodlands I will go To see the cherry hung with snow. During his years in London, A. Housman completed A Shropshire Lad , a cycle of 63 poems. After one publisher had turned it down, he helped subsidise its publication in At first selling slowly, it rapidly became a lasting success.
Its appeal to English musicians had helped to make it widely known before World War I , when its themes struck a powerful chord with English readers. The book has been in print continuously since May The poems are marked by pessimism and preoccupation with death, without religious consolation. Housman wrote many of them while living in Highgate , London, before ever visiting Shropshire, which he presented in an idealised pastoral light as his 'land of lost content'. Housman began writing a new set of poems after the First World War. He was an influence on many British poets who became famous by their writing about the war, and wrote several poems as occasional verse to commemorate the war dead.
This included his Epitaph on an Army of Mercenaries , honouring the British Expeditionary Force , an elite but small force of professional soldiers, 'a rapier amongst scythes'  sent to Belgium at the start of the war. Fighting a well-equipped and much larger German army, they suffered heavy losses. In the early s, when Moses Jackson was dying in Canada, Housman wanted to assemble his best unpublished poems so that Jackson could read them before his death.
He published them as Last Poems , feeling that his inspiration was exhausted and that he should not publish more in his lifetime. Housman also wrote a parodic Fragment of a Greek Tragedy , in English, published posthumously with humorous poems under the title Unkind to Unicorns.
A Shropshire Lad and Other Poems by A. E. Housman (2010, Paperback)
John Sparrow quoted a letter written late in Housman's life that described the genesis of his poems:. Poetry was for him …'a morbid secretion', as the pearl is for the oyster. The desire, or the need, did not come upon him often, and it came usually when he was feeling ill or depressed; then whole lines and stanzas would present themselves to him without any effort, or any consciousness of composition on his part.
- A Shropshire Lad and Other Poems: The Collected Poems of A.E. Housman.
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Sometimes they wanted a little alteration, sometimes none; sometimes the lines needed in order to make a complete poem would come later, spontaneously or with 'a little coaxing'; sometimes he had to sit down and finish the poem with his head. Sparrow himself adds, "How difficult it is to achieve a satisfactory analysis may be judged by considering the last poem in A Shropshire Lad.
Of its four stanzas, Housman tells us that two were 'given' him ready made; one was coaxed forth from his subconsciousness an hour or two later; the remaining one took months of conscious composition. No one can tell for certain which was which. In Laurence Housman also deposited an essay entitled "A.
A. E. Housman - Wikipedia
Housman's 'De Amicitia'" there is a link to the text, below in this article, under "Further reading" in the British Library , with the proviso that it was not to be published for 25 years. The essay discussed A. Housman's homosexuality and his love for Moses Jackson. In More Poems , he buries his love for Moses Jackson in the very act of commemorating it, as his feelings of love are not reciprocated and must be carried unfulfilled to the grave: .
Because I liked you better Than suits a man to say It irked you, and I promised To throw the thought away. To put the world between us We parted, stiff and dry; Goodbye, said you, forget me. I will, no fear, said I If here, where clover whitens The dead man's knoll, you pass, And no tall flower to meet you Starts in the trefoiled grass, Halt by the headstone naming The heart no longer stirred, And say the lad that loved you Was one that kept his word. His poem "Oh who is that young sinner with the handcuffs on his wrists? Housman's poetry, especially A Shropshire Lad , was set to music by many British, and in particular English, composers in the first half of the 20th century.
In the cycle A Shropshire Lad was set by Arthur Somervell , who had begun to develop the concept of the English song-cycle in his version of Tennyson 's Maud a little previously.
Ralph Vaughan Williams produced his well-known settings of six songs, the cycle On Wenlock Edge , for string quartet , tenor and piano in Ivor Gurney was another composer who made renowned settings of Housman's poems. Housman Author , Nick Laird Contributor. Availability In Stock. Facebook Twitter Pinterest Share. Description Also available on eBook.
Click here to purchase from Kobo. Housman, was an English poet and classical scholar, now best known for his cycle of poems A Shropshire Lad. He was a scholar at Cambridge University and spent a year at Harvard as a visiting fellow. He also worked for several years as a litigator and arbitration lawyer in London and Warsaw.