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Old 04-15-2001, 03:11 PM
graywyvern graywyvern is offline
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Recently i took to reading at bedtime a few poems from
Housman's later collections--More Poems; Last Poems--
which, though they contain a few widely-anthologized
pieces, remain relatively unknown (next to A Shropshire
Lad). It can be said without too much injustice that H.
mostly wrote the same poem over & over--but only if you
add, sometimes that poem turned out perfect. Here's one
a bit outside his usual range:


"When Israel out of Egypt came,
Safe in the sea they trod;
By day in cloud, by night in flames,
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.

Where mixed with me the sandstorms drift,
And nerve and heart and brain
Are ashes for the air to lift,
And lightly shower again."


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Old 04-15-2001, 03:44 PM
laughing outloud laughing outloud is offline
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A. E. Housman has clarity and I have always wanted to be clear in my poetry. He also has sparseness--no strings of adjectives in Housman. He is a fine role model for beginning poets and for older poets who need to be reminded. He marches in the second rank of poets but proudly. I own his book of poems and reread him more (for business and pleasure) than any other poet. It is the clearness of his best poems that I like and would emulate.

Laughing Outloud
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Old 04-16-2001, 08:34 AM
Tim Murphy Tim Murphy is offline
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Many thanks for posting this, Gray, an epic by Housman's terse standards. When R.P. Warren was eighteen he wrote Housman at Cambridge and asked "How do you always manage to choose the right word?" H's response was one sentence: "Dear Mr. Warren, I simply get rid of the wrong ones." Warren told me this story when I was eighteen, and it was one of the best lessons I ever learned.
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Old 04-17-2001, 08:29 AM
A. E. Stallings A. E. Stallings is offline
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I'm a sucker for Housman. He is probably my favorite (I am, like Cope, in love...). Yes, he is a Minor poet (according to Auden's definition), but certainly a Great poet nonetheless. Many a Major poet is only fair-to-middling in my book.

And surely, with the Stoppard play, his stock is on the rise.

I think I can say with some confidence, however, that Housman would NEVER have rimed "came" with "flames." It surely should read "flame" here. Although he of all people would appreciate the vagaries of textual transmission.

Thanks for sharing this gem.

Alicia
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Old 04-17-2001, 07:13 PM
Tim Murphy Tim Murphy is offline
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Alicia, Alan posted Wendy's Housman poem on Mastery last fall. But for any who missed it:

Another Unfortunate Choice

I think I am in love with A.E. Housman,
Which puts me in a worse-than-usual fix.
No woman ever stood a chance with Housman,
And he's been dead since 1936.

--Wendy Cope
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Old 04-18-2001, 12:40 PM
graywyvern graywyvern is offline
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(snip)
I think I can say with some confidence, however, that Housman would NEVER have rimed "came" with "flames." It surely should read "flame" here.

yes. mea culpa.

g.
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Old 04-20-2001, 11:38 PM
Robert J. Clawson Robert J. Clawson is offline
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"And surely, with the Stoppard play, his stock is on the rise"

I reiterate: it's sensitive, and solid drama: a must see.

I caught it at the University of Chicago. I suspect it's getting around now.


Bob
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