Friday, March 26, 2010

A Shropshire Lad

The thoughtful looking fellow above is one Alfred Edward Housman born this day 1859 in Bromsgrove, England. He was born the eldest of seven children to a country solicitor, and eventually made his way to St. John's College, Oxford where he studied classics. It was this classical education that was to lead to him being considered one of the greatest private scholars England ever produced. It was while at Oxford that he met the love of his life, a fellow by the name of Moses Jackson. Sadly for Housman, Mr. Jackson was hetero, and did do reciprocate his feelings. A couple of his poems are clearly written with Jackson in mind, and they are just as lovely as the rest of his works. The following poem is written with Jackson in mind, and it detailed Housman burying his love for Jackson.

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
Good stuff that, and his cycle of 63 poems, entitled A Shropshire Lad contain some of his best works, and some of the best poems of the period. Read some of his works, and marvel at the depth of his scholarship, and the brilliance of his verse. I do. I will leave you with another one of his poems which I have always loved.

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.
So for such lovely verses as the ones above (and a great deal more), A.E. Housman (March 26th, 1859-April 30th 1936, at the age of 77), you are my (212th) hero of the day.

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