Friday, March 26, 2010

A. E. Housman

This is the day A. E. Housman was born in 1859. Thirty-seven years later he would publish his best known collection of poems, A Shropshire Lad. He would follow it with other collections. In addition to his poetry he was counted one of the foremost classicists of his age, and has been ranked as one of the greatest scholars of all time. He established his reputation publishing as a private scholar and, on the strength and quality of his work, was appointed Professor of Latin at University College London and later, at Cambridge. Here is one of my favorites from the collection:

LOVELIEST of trees, the cherry now
Is hung with bloom along the bough,
And stands about the woodland ride
Wearing white for Eastertide.
Now, of my threescore years and ten,
Twenty will not come again,
And take from seventy springs a score,
It only leaves me fifty more.
And since to look at things in bloom
Fifty springs are little room,
About the woodlands I will go
To see the cherry hung with snow.

A Shropshire Lad by A. E. Housman. The Folio Society, London. 1986 (1896)

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