Title:A Shropshire Lad
Author: A.E. Housman
Publisher: Penguin (Classics)
Genre: Poetry (English Journeys)
A few years ago I became completely hooked on the Penguin Great Ideas series. I think they’re wonderful pocket sized source documents to keep around the house. I also love the Great Journeys… and now, I have a small collection of English Journeys as well.
The kiddo and I love scampering through the woods. We also love reading outside. These little paperbacks are the perfect books to tag along for our wooded adventures and frolics in the park.
Not to mention that, today, I think Housman became my favorite male poet – a title previously held by William Carlos Williams. The two are nothing alike. But I am nothing like who I was when William Carlos Williams was awarded his place on my mental pedestal.
Where William Carlos Williams amused me with “This is Just to Say”:
I have eaten
that were in
you were probably
they were delicious
and so cold
I was in middle school when I discovered this. For some reason I found this bluntness endearing. I thought, “What a wonderful jerk to address poetry with such sarcasm.”
I don’t want poetry to be sarcastic anymore. I don’t appreciate the uncaring witticism the same way.
I do, however, love this:
Oh, when I was in love with you,
Then I was clean and brave,
And miles around the wonder grew
How well did I behave.
And now the fancy passes by,
And nothing will remain,
And miles around they’ll say that I
Am quite myself again
– “A Shropshire Lad: XVIII”
Ok, well, it seems it’s always the jerk lines that appeal to me. But at least it’s not about stealing plums anymore. Housman has real heart and soul as he describes landscapes and lovers, crickets and dead soldiers, the woods and the very real feelings of longing for something that has gone. All so beautiful and natural; and the pattern in which he writes lends itself to easily reading it aloud outdoors while the kiddo plays.
The dog seemed to enjoy it too. He stopped to look at me every time a poem ended as though I was denying him the chance to be included in the written word of humans.