Usually known as A. E. Housman, was an English classical scholar and poet, best known to the general public for his cycle of poems A Shropshire Lad. Lyrical and almost epigrammatic in form, the poems were mostly written before 1900. Their wistful evocation of doomed youth in the English countryside, in spare language and distinctive imagery, appealed strongly to late Victorian and Edwardian taste, and to many early 20th century English composers (beginning with Arthur Somervell) both before and after the First World War. Through its song-setting the poetry became closely associated with that era, and with Shropshire itself.
Housman was counted one of the foremost classicists of his age, and has been ranked as one of the greatest scholars of all time. He established his reputation publis ...
Here Dead We Lie
Here dead we lie
Because we did not choose
To live and shame the land
From which we sprung.
Life, to be sure,
Is nothing much to lose,
But young men think it is,
And we were young.
“The heart from out the bosom Was never given in vain But bought with sighs aplenty And sold for endless rue And now I am two and twenty And oh tis true, tis true”
“Stars, I have seen them fall, But when they drop and die No star is lost at all From all the star-sown sky. The toil of all that be Helps not the primal fault; It rains into the sea And still the sea is salt.”
“Give me a land of boughs in leaf A land of trees that stand; Where trees are fallen there is grief; I love no leafless land.”
“The sum of things to be known is inexhaustible, and however long we read, we shall never come to the end of our story-book." (Introductory lecture as professor of Latin at University College, London, 3 October 1892)”
“All knots that lovers tie Are tied to sever. Here shall your sweetheart lie, Untrue for ever.”
“Could man be drunk for ever With liquor, love, or fights, Lief should I rouse at morning And lief lie down of nights. But men at whiles are sober And think by fits and starts, And if they think, they fasten Their hands upon their hearts.”
“The thoughts of others Were light and fleeting, Of lovers meeting Or luck or fame. Mine were of trouble, And mine were steady; So I was ready When trouble came.”
“Therefore, since the world has still Much good, but much less good than ill, And while the sun and moon endure Lucks a chance, but troubles sure, Id face it as a wise man would, And train for ill and not for good.”
“Who made the world I cannot tell; Tis made, and here I am in hell.”
“Now hollow fires burn out to black, And lights are fluttering low: Square your shoulders, lift your pack And leave your friends and go. O never fear, lads, naught’s to dread, Look not left nor right: In all the endless road you tread There’s nothing but the night.”
“Good creatures, do you love your lives And have you ears for sense? Here is a knife like other knives, That cost me eighteen pence. I need but stick it in my heart And down will come the sky, And earths foundations will depart And all you folk will die.”
“I, a stranger and afraid In a world I never made.”
“Into my heart an 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.”
“Existence is not itself a good thing, that we should spend a lifetime securing its necessaries: a life spent, however victoriously, in securing the necessaries of life is no more than an elaborate furnishing and decoration of apartments for the reception of a guest who is never to come. Our business here is not to live, but to live happily.”
“The stars have not dealt me the worst they could do: My pleasures are plenty, my troubles are two. But oh, my two troubles they reave me of rest, The brains in my head and the heart in my breast. Oh, grant me the ease that is granted so free, The birthright of multitudes, give it to me, That relish their victuals and rest on their bed With flint in the bosom and guts in the head.”