|A. E. Housman |
This page contains selected poems of A. E. Housman. The following brief introduction consists of excerpts from an article on Housman by Tom Merrill:
Housman began writing poetry at age eight, while still at home under tutelage of a governess, and then won a few awards for poems he wrote at The Bomsgrove School, which he attended on scholarship for seven years before entering Oxford on scholarship at age eighteen. During his college years he wrote only three poems, not to resume poetry-writing until considerably later, at age thirty-five, after a ten year stint as a clerk at the Government Patent Office and a couple years after being appointed, in 1892, to fill the Latin Chair at the University of London. The ease and naturalness and perfect cadence of Housmans poetry no doubt account for his enduring stature as one of the foremost lyric poets of the past century and a half.
From "More Poems"
I - EASTER HYMN
If in that Syrian garden, ages slain, You sleep, and know not you are dead in vain, Nor even in dreams behold how dark and bright Ascends in smoke and fire by day and night The hate you died to quench and could but fan, Sleep well and see no morning, son of man. But if, the grave rent and the stone rolled by, At the right hand of majesty on high You sit, and sitting so remember yet Your tears, your agony and bloody sweat, Your cross and passion and the life you gave, Bow hither out of heaven and see and save. II
When Israel out of Egypt came Safe in the sea they trod; By day in cloud, by night in flame, Went on before them God. He brought them with a stretched out hand Dry-footed through the foam, Past sword and famine, rock and sand, Lust and rebellion, home. I never over Horeb heard The blast of advent blow; No fire-faced prophet brought me word Which way behoved me go. Ascended is the cloudy flame, The mount of thunder dumb; The tokens that to Israel came, To me they have not come. I see the country far away Where I shall never stand; The heart goes where no footstep may Into the promised land. The realm I look upon and die Another man will own; He shall attain the heaven that I Perish and have not known. But I will go where they are hid That never were begot, To my inheritance amid The nation that is not.