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A.E. Housman (Penguin Poetry Library)

4.12 of 5 stars 4.12  ·  rating details  ·  593 ratings  ·  35 reviews
This volume constitutes the authorized canon of A.E. Housman's verse as it was established in 1939, three years after his death. In contains A Shropshire Lad, Last Poems, More Poems, the Additional Poems, and the three translations from A.W. Pollard's anthology, Odes from the Greek Dramatists.
Published June 12th 1997 (first published 1946)
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One of my favorites:


How clear, how lovely bright
How beautiful to sight
Those beams of morning play;
How heaven laughs out with glee
Where, like a bird set free,
Up from the eastern sea
Soars the delightful day.

To-day I shall be strong,
No more shall yield to wrong,
Shall squander life no more;
Days lost, I know not how,
I shall retrieve them now;
Now I shall keep the vow
I never kept before.

Ensanguining the skies
How heavily it dies
Into the west away;
Past touch and sight and sound
Not further to be f
Bryn Hammond
I have loved, do love and shall love Housman. Way out of fashion, like my other young love Swinburne. I spent more time with them than with those thought better poets, early in life, and have no regrets. It's true the alt sexuality helped in both cases. Perhaps I can liken Housman to the lyrics of The Smiths. I think I can.
To an Athlete Dying Young

The time you won your town the race
We chaired you through the market-place;
Man and boy stood cheering by,
And home we brought you shoulder-high.

Today, the road all runners come,
Shoulder-high we bring you home,
And set you at your threshold down,
Townsman of a stiller town.

This is one of my favorite poems in this collection. I like it so much that I can't see how any lover of poetry could fail to respond to it.
Unrequited love and youthful death are the author's recurrent themes. Always forthright and devoid of the esoteric and modernistic qualities of more revered poets, Housman's work, though imbued with a pronounced melancholy, is never strident or sanctimonious. It is through the symmetry of theme that Housman achieves the solemnity which lends these justly celebrated poems their stature.
I feel that any discussion of A. E. Housman's poetry should first acknowledge that he was never a poet in the sa
Henry C.
There are better and, probably, more fierce poets. Poets with a broader range of work, who show greater depth of subject matters and setting. Poets who depend less on rhyme schemes, which can make deeply felt themes feel overly simple or insufficiently tricky or not-quite-grave-enough or ... something.

So what? Why not celebrate accessibility? A.E. Housman's smooth, lyrical style makes his poetry easy to absorb. To dismiss it, as some do, for its rhyming and its relative ease of entry is a fooli
favorite poem

Untitled by A.E. Housman

I to my perils
Of cheat and charmer
Came clad in armour
By stars benign.

Hope lies to mortals
And most believe her,
But man’s deceiver
Was never mine.

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.

Yes, I know. How dreadfully unfashionable! And yet... I've loved Housman's poetry since high school. I love his pastiches of both Sappho and the Greek Anthology, I love the clear-eyed and Stoic sense of fate and loss, I love the crisp precision. This is a volume I've had on my shelves since I was sixteen--- replaced over and over. And it'll always be a favourite.
Forgive the format but I couldn't resist:

I read this collection
Whilst suffering the heat
Of another year's vacation
And found the writer neat.

While maudlin and morose,
Houseman's depiction of youthful love
As naive, beautiful and verbose
Fit my memories of it like a glove.
R.J. Lynch
Perhaps the most surprising thing about Housman is that he wasn't a Shropshire lad at all and was quite possibly never in Shropshire at all, at least until he was buried there. The "blue remembered hills" were what he remembered seeing at a distance from his Worcestershire home. The yearning tone of many of these poems reflects the unfulfilled life he led as well as his sympathy for those whose lives were unfulfilled in ways different from his (I'm thinking particularly of Is My Team Ploughing?) ...more
In general, I am not too fond of Housman's poetry for the simple reason that he is stark, brooding, pessimistic, disappointed (e.g., in love and friendship, to the point of cynicism), and morose. However, even the most negative poems offer glimmers of insight, and one such example is perhaps his most famous work:

It is in truth iniquity on high
To cheat our sentenced souls of aught they crave,
And mar the merriment as you and I
Fare on our long fool's-errand to the grave.
~ A.E. Housman, "The Chest
Not stupid stuff. But reading a lot of Housman at a sitting is like consuming a sheet of marzipan. I think he's best taken in smaller portions. Near the entirety of his verse is in ballad meter or in one of his many minor variations on that form. So tooling through three or four dozen of them at a time, they do tend to blend together because of a unanimity of theme, vocabulary and style. The poems are much about the death of young men, unrequited love and pessimism. In some ways, Housman themati ...more
Oliver Fallon
When green buds hang in the elm like dust
And sprinkle the lime like rain,
Forth I wander, forth I must
And drink of life again.

Forth I must by hedgerow bowers
To look at the leaves uncurled
And stand in the fields where cuckoo flowers
Are lying about the world.

How does it work? Why is it so sad?

The explicit arrival of spring is undermined by the use of words at the end of the first two lines suggestive of death: 'dust' as in 'ashes to ashes, dust to dust'; the double meaning of 'sprinkle the l
Jon Corelis
A great classic

***** A Five Star Poetry Book: Recommended for All Readers

A. E. Housman was one of the great English poets, and people who are into reading English language poetry will hardly need a review: they will want to have a copy of his works, and will only need to know that this is the edition to get, since it includes the canon of his work as authorized by his brother Laurence, in an attractively designed, easy to read volume. (There are several editions published by Holt beginning in 19
They say that the criticism of poets is borne out in the kind of poetry they write. The man's "does the beard bristle in the morning shave" test passes muster with his own poetry. I like the quiet plangency of the following:

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;
'Good-bye,' said you, 'forget me.'
'I will, no fear,' said I.

If here, where clover whitens
The dead man's knoll, you
Christina Rau
I'm not a form poet, mostly because I suck at it. I usually don't read form, either, because I start to sing-song it in my head when I hear the rhythm, and then I take too long to finish whatever I'm reading because I sing the whole thing. A. E. Houseman's Collected Poems are no exception. I sang the collection. Contrary to my normal tastes, however, I liked a lot of the poems. They were beautiful. I don't often say that about poetry.

Here's a collection of simple storied verse containing most o
Houseman did not have a large output of material but it only serves to show the quality of his work, only picking up his pen when he was truly inspired payed off. One of my favourite British poets. Tender and timeless.
It's really a picture of his life when read all the way through. If a poem doesn't make sense...then read the poem before it and the one afterwards to help. Great stories altogether.
Housman is an oft-quoted poet from the First World War. Very touching but also disturbing.
Molly Olusunmade Corlett
My dad used to read me these when I was little, which is a bit of a depressing choice for your small child. But they stuck with me, anyway, and I can still recite (and sing the Polly Bolton versions of...) several. "Because I liked you better" was a later favourite, miserable without being overwrought. I've avoided analysing Housman because I don't want to ruin him, and I'm not starting now. But beautiful, sparse poetry.
every now and again Housman fits my mood perfectly- mainly when i'm feeling unbearably pessimistic and broken. Having read about his (apparently) unrequited love for his dear friend Jackson makes Housman's poetry even more depressing to read. If you're in a good mood, his writing will seem either petty or change your disposition rather drastically. If you're miserable, hide anything sharp before reading.
What stood out in Housman's writing was the interesting way he mixed humor and grief. It was a clever style that created some unique poems. However, it remains as 4, instead of 5, stars because there was nothing that stood out to me as one of the best. It simply had a clever feel that made it interesting to read.
I fell in love with A.E. Housman's poetry when I was a freshman in high school. Easily my favorite poet, his written word often leaves me with goosebumps and tears welling up in my eyes. That, to me, is the sign of true talent. I cannot say enough about this man's work! Buy the book. You won't be sorry.
I don't mind reading about sad topics or death or misery. Housman made me miserable with him, but only sometimes because the writing drew me in. Many of these poems just grated on my nerves, but the occasional gem made it worth the read.
Liz B
I've gone through phases with Housman--I loved his poetry in high school, then in college I decided it was too simple. Now, I love it for its surface simplicity & hidden depths. My all time favorite is "Terence, This Is Stupid Stuff."
Richard Epstein
It is hard to rate the indispensable books in your life. I can't imagine never having encountered Housman, nor what my poetry would be like if I hadn't. It doesn't matter much to me if it's "good," only that it's there.
I don't like Housman as a rule although I know the Shropshire Lad is very well liked. Something about his way of looking at the world sets my teeth on edge...
"When I meet the morning beam
Or lay me down at night to dream,
I hear my bones within me say,
'Abother night, another day."
Ian Fairclough
Caution. My copy (bought second-hand) has a production error. P. 49-80 are missing. After p. 112, p. 81-112 are repeated.
One of my all-time favorite poems is in this Housman collection, and I cant remember the name of the poem.....
Really love his poetry, but the essay at the end analyzing poetry, was a bit over my head.
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“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.”
“Halt by the headstone naming
The heart no longer stirred,
And say the lad that loved you
Was one that kept his word.”
More quotes…