AbeBooks' Reading Copy



« | »

A.E. Housman – 150th Anniversary

alfred-edward-housmanToday marks the 150th anniversary of the birth of poet, A.E. Housman.

Alfred Edward Housman was born on March 26, 1859 in Bromsgrove, Worcestershire and is best known for his cycle of 63 poems, A Shropshire Lad.

Housman’s Shropshire Lad poems are steeped in pessimism and a preoccupation with death.

A Shropshire Lad 1896 First Edition

A Shropshire Lad 1896 First Edition

However, their evocation of doomed youth in the English countryside had great appeal in the late Victorian, Edwardian and Georgian tastes of the time and provided texts for a significant number of British composers of the early 20th century.

1925 edition of A Shropshire Lad SIGNED by A.E. Housman

1925 edition of A Shropshire Lad SIGNED by A.E. Housman

Housman actually treated poetry as a secondary preoccupation, finding his true calling in classical studies.  His scholarly works provided the merit for his appointment as Professor of Latin at University College London and at Cambridge.

Housman never publicly spoke of his poetry until 1933 when in the lecture, The Name and Nature of Poetry, he argued that poetry should have an emotional and not intellectual appeal.

To An Athlete Dying Young (from A Shropshire Lad)

The time you won your town the race

We chaired you through the market-place;

A Shropshire Lad - 1940 edition illustrated by Agnes Miller Parker

A Shropshire Lad - 1940 edition illustrated by Agnes Miller Parker

Man and boy stood cheering by,

And home we brought you shoulder-high.

To-day, the road all runners come,

Shoulder-high we bring you home,

And set you at your threshold down,

Townsman of a stiller town.

Smart lad, to slip betimes away

From fields where glory does not stay

And early though the laurel grows

It withers quicker than the rose.

1932 Illustrated edition, Elinore Blaisdell illustrator

1932 Illustrated edition, Elinore Blaisdell illustrator

Eyes the shady night has shut

Cannot see the record cut,

And silence sounds no worse than cheers

After earth has stopped the ears:

Now you will not swell the rout

Of lads that wore their honours out,

Runners whom renown outran

And the name died before the man.

So set, before its echoes fade,

A Shropshire Lad 1932 Hartsdale House, New York & London

1932 Hartsdale House, New York & London

The fleet foot on the sill of shade,

And hold to the low lintel up

The still-defended challenge-cup.

And round that early-laurelled head

Will flock to gaze the strengthless dead,

And find unwithered on its curls

The garland briefer than a girl’s.

See more collectable A.E. Housman books…


Posted by on March 26, 2009.

Categories: author, books, collecting, literature, poetry, UK

No Responses Yet

Leave a Reply

« | »




Recent Posts


Pages



Switch to our desktop site