Alfred Edward Housman

Alfred Edward Housman


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Alfred Edward Housman blev født i Frockbury, Worcestershire, i 1859. Uddannet ved Bromsgrove School vandt han et stipendium til St. John's College, Oxford. Han blev en fornem klassiker og blev i 1892 udnævnt til professor i latin ved University College, London.

I 1896 udgav han En Shropshire Lad. De 63 digte minder om uskylden, fornøjelserne og tragedierne på landet. Han udgav også kritiske udgaver af Manilius (1903) og Juvenal (1905). I 1911 blev Housman professor i latin ved Cambridge University. Hans bror, Laurence Housman, var også en succesrig forfatter og illustrator.

Under første verdenskrig udgav Housman flere digte om konflikten, herunder Epitafium om en hær af lejesoldater (1914).

Housman fortsatte med at skrive poesi og hans Sidste digte (1922) mødtes med stor anerkendelse. Praefanda (1931) var en samling bavede og uanstændige passager fra latinske forfattere. Alfred Edward Housman døde i 1936.

Disse, i de dage hvor himlen faldt,

Den time da jordens fundamenter flygtede,

Følgte deres lejesoldatkald

Og tog deres løn og er døde.

Deres skuldre holdt himlen hængende;

De stod, og jordens fundamenter bliver;

Da Gud opgav, forsvarede disse,

Og gemte summen af ​​ting til løn.

Her ligger vi døde, fordi vi ikke valgte

At leve og skamme landet, hvorfra vi er sprunget.

Livet er helt sikkert ikke meget at miste,

Men unge mænd tror det er det, og vi var unge.


Biografi af Alfred Edward Housman

Alfred Edward Housman (/ ˈhaʊsmən/ 26. marts 1859 - 30. april 1936), normalt kendt som A. E. Housman, var en engelsk klassisk lærd og digter, bedst kendt af offentligheden for sin digtscyklus A Shropshire Lad. Lyrisk og næsten epigrammatisk i form fremkalder digtene ondskabsfuldt ungdommens undergang og skuffelser på det engelske landskab. Deres skønhed, enkelhed og karakteristiske billedsprog appellerede stærkt til edwardiansk smag og til mange engelske komponister fra begyndelsen af ​​det 20. århundrede både før og efter første verdenskrig. Gennem deres sangindstillinger blev digtene tæt forbundet med den æra og med Shropshire selv.

Housman var en af ​​de fremmeste klassikere i sin alder og er blevet rangeret som en af ​​de største lærde, der nogensinde har levet. Han etablerede sit ry for at udgive som en privat forsker, og på styrken og kvaliteten af ​​sit arbejde blev han udnævnt til professor i latin ved University College London og derefter ved University of Cambridge. Hans udgaver af Juvenal, Manilius og Lucan betragtes stadig som autoritative.


Konservatisme og kreativitet i A.E. Housman

Som Tom Stoppards Opfindelsen af ​​kærlighed begynder, A. E. Housman “i en alder af syvoghalvfjerds,. . . står på bredden af ​​Styx og ser færgen, Charons tilgang, ”der fortæller ham, at de skal vente på en anden passager. 1

Charon En digter og en lærd er det, jeg fik at vide.
AEH Jeg tror, ​​det må være mig.
Charon Begge to?
AEH Det er jeg bange for.
Charon Det lød som to forskellige mennesker.
AEH Jeg ved.

Stoppard begynder med den offentlige opdeling mellem digteren, den "sande" digter af EN Shropshire Lad, og den lærde, alvorlig og ofte ætsende, der havde formænd for latin på University College, London og ved Cambridge University. Stoppard udforsker også en endnu større pause i Housmans liv, en der vises i hans poesi:

Han ville ikke blive for mig, og hvem kan undre sig?
Han ville ikke blive, så jeg stod og stirrede.
Jeg gav ham hånden og rev mit liv i klump
Og gik med det halve af mit liv om mine veje. 2

At sætte verden mellem os
Vi skiltes stive og tørre
"Farvel," sagde du, "glem mig."
”Far det godt, jeg vil,” sagde I. 3

Vi kender ikke detaljerne i den afsked, der er genskabt i Tom Stoppards fantasi, 4 men scenen ekko gennem poesien, Housman skrev i sine notesbøger, som blev udgivet efter hans død af hans bror, Laurence. Mange ser forskellen mellem Shropshire Ladens sørgmodige belastninger og den kolde grusomhed i den latinske professors anmeldelser, der stammer fra kløften, der adskilte Housman fra den mand, han elskede.

Alfred Edward Housman 5 blev født den 26. marts 1859 "i Worcestershire, ikke Shropshire." 6 Han nød akademisk succes og vandt stipendier til King Edward VI Grammar School, Bromsgrove, i sin hjemby og til St. John's College, Oxford, hvor han modtog en First Class i "Mods", eksamener om klassisk græsk og latinsk sprog og litteratur . To år senere blev han "pløjet i Greats", det vil sige, at hans eksaminatorer nægtede ham selv en bestået karakter i sine afsluttende eksamener om gammel historie og filosofi. Som Housman skrev: "I 1879 blev jeg placeret i første klasse i Honor School of Classical Moderations i 1881, det lykkedes mig ikke at opnå hæder i Final School of Litterae Humaniores." 7

Housman forlod Oxford uden en uddannelse. Biografer har tilskrevet fejlen til mange årsager, herunder 8 arrogance 9 eller en mulig religiøs krise. 10 (Han mistede sin kristne tro på tretten, da hans mor døde, og blev ateist ved enogtyve, året før han svigtede Greats.) 11 Andre mistænker en romantisk årsag. 12 Senere skrev han: ”Oxford havde ikke meget indflydelse på mig, bortset fra at der mødte jeg min største ven,” 13 Moses John Jackson (1858–1923), 14 “manden der havde mere indflydelse på mit liv end nogen anden, "15 og en kilde til" de store og virkelige problemer i min tidlige manddom. " 16 Housman, engang den legende leder af sin families syv børn, flyttede til London, hvor han undgik dem. Han fik en Pass -grad og gik på arbejde i Hendes Majestætes Patentkontor, hvor Jackson også var ansat.

Housman indkvarteret med Moses fra 1883–1885. Moses ’bror Adalbert boede hos dem indtil december 1884. I efteråret 1885 skete der noget. Housman forsvandt i en uge. Moses skrev ængsteligt til Housmans far, men Housman dukkede op igen og flyttede hver til separat bolig. I 1887 flyttede Jackson til Karachi, Indien, for at blive forstander for en teknisk skole, Sind College. Da han vendte tilbage for at gifte sig i 1889, beholdt han nyhederne fra Housman, indtil han og hans brud havde sejlet. (Housman skrev i sin dagbog den 7. januar 1890: "Jeg hørte, at han var gift.") Da Jackson trak sig tilbage, flyttede han til Canada, hvor han døde af kræft i 1923.

Adalbert forblev Housmans ven indtil sin død i 1892, året Housman blev valgt til formand for latin ved University College, London, belønningen for et årti med artikler i klassiske tidsskrifter, skrevet om aftenen efter hans arbejde på Patentkontoret. I 1911 blev Housman valgt til professor i latin ved Cambridge og stipendiat ved Trinity College, hvor han boede og forelæste til sin død i 1936. I de femogtyve år hang billeder af Moses og Adalbert over pejsen i hans værelser på Trinity.

Det var som professor, efter at "den virkelig følelsesmæssige del af mit liv var forbi", 17, at Housman komponerede den poesi, han selv udgav som En Shropshire Lad (1896) og Sidste digte (1922) og af hans bror, Laurence, som Flere digte (1936) og Yderligere digte (1937). På trods af positive anmeldelser, En Shropshire Lad solgte ikke godt i starten, men på tidspunktet for den store krig var den blevet en populær favorit. Sidste digte var en øjeblikkelig bestseller. I løbet af disse år producerede Housman nok videnskabelige artikler og anmeldelser til at fylde tre store bind og kritiske udgaver af Ovid Ibis, Juvenal, Lucan og Manilius. 18

Hverken digter eller forsker mente, at menneskelige ønsker kan ændre verden:

Ay look: høj himmel og jord ail fra det primære fundament
Alle tanker om at rive hjertet er her, og alle er forgæves. 19

- At tro, at to og to er fire
Og hverken fem eller tre
Menneskets hjerte har længe været ømt
Og det kan man godt lide at være lang. 20

Stjerner, jeg har set dem falde,
Men når de falder og dør
Ingen stjerne er tabt overhovedet
Fra hele den stjernesåede himmel.
Arbejdet med alt det, der skal være
Hjælper ikke den primære fejl
Det regner i havet
Og stadig er havet salt. 21

I verset accepteres denne dystre indsigt med stoisk resign eller undgås ved at drikke. I hans videnskabelige prosa fremstår det som ironisk dans af satire:

Tilfældighed og naturforløb vil ikke bringe det til at passere, at læsninger af en MS er rigtige, når de er mulige og umulige, når de er forkerte: det kræver guddommelig indgriben, og når man overvejer menneskets historie og universets skuespil Jeg håber, at jeg uden skam kan sige, at guddommelig intervention måske havde været bedre anvendt andre steder. 22

Dette vedvarende tema i Housmans poesi og videnskabelige prosa, at der er en objektiv verden, som skal leves i på trods af at den ikke svarer på menneskelige ønsker, kan give et fingerpeg om sammenhængen i hans livsværk.

"Jeg er en konservativ og kan ikke lide at ændre noget uden grund." 23 I 1914 afslog han en anmodning om at underskrive et andragende om at reformere engelsk stavemåde ved at skrive: ”Jeg indrømmer, at jeg er knyttet til de nuværende ordformer, og jeg er også, hvad du ofte har hørt om, men måske ikke ofte set, en rigtig konservativ , der tænker, at ændre en ondskab i sig selv. ”24 Enheden eller uenigheden i Housmans poesi og prosa er ofte blevet søgt i hans ulykkelige kærlighedsliv, hans homoseksualitet eller hans tab af tro. Det mest konsekvente træk i hans liv var imidlertid hans politiske og sociale konservatisme. Her kan det derfor være umagen værd at overveje hans konservatisme inden for politik, kunst og videnskab.

Housmans var konservative, og deres foretrukne familietoast var "Up with the Tories and out with the Radicals!" 25 Hans breve hjem gør politik til det bedst dokumenterede aspekt af hans collegeår. 26 I Oxford deltog han i studenterdebatter og demonstrationer. Han var en stærk konservativ i en konservativ højborg og protesterede mod den måde, hans medkonservative råbte ned og smed liberale modstandere ud. Han havde imidlertid ingen indvendinger mod at brænde Gladstone i billedkunst og blev helt afskrækket af den liberale sejr i 1880. 27 Senere i livet tilstod han ligegyldighed over for partipolitik, men “hilste generelt en konservativ sejr velkommen ved et mellemvalg,” fordi , 'sagde han,' det vil irritere den slags mennesker, jeg ikke kan lide. '”28 Flere af hans breve afslører en detaljeret viden om det konservative partis ledere og politik og en sund foragt for“ fetisj ”i Free Handle. 29 Han gik ud af sin måde at fortælle venstreorienterede Gilbert Murray, at han ikke ville stemme på ham 30 og gjorde grin med Murrays pacifisme. "Jeg tvivler snarere på, om mennesket virkelig har meget at vinde ved at erstatte fred med stridigheder, som du og Jesus Kristus foreslår." 31

Housman bekendte "sin ungdommelige beundring af Napoleon III, og at den fransk-preussiske krig var et stort chok og sorg for ham (dengang 11 år gammel"), til AC Benson på Trinity College næsten to generationer senere. 32 Han forkyndte det offentligt sammen med sin foragt for den hykleriske holdning til kejseren af ​​engelske liberale i sin anmeldelse af F.A. Simpsons Louis Napoleon og genopretning af Frankrig:

Dronning Victoria havde besteg tronen uden at sige ved din orlov eller med din orlov, at et parlamentshus var arveligt, og fem sjettedele af den voksne mandlige befolkning havde heller ingen stemme til at vælge. Det var de mennesker, der talte om despotisme, da en naboland ved almindelig stemmeret og enorme flertal havde afgjort sin egen styreform. Selvom det i sandhed ikke var det engelske folk, men de oplyste engelske liberale, da kejseren i begyndelsen af ​​deres lange opstigning var ked af det og grunden til, at de kaldte ham en despot, var at han havde lagt en despotisme fra sig og leveret Frankrig fra tyranni i Paris. 2.000.000 radikalers guddommelige ret til at styre 30.000.000 konservative var blevet trampet under fødderne og Napoleons hovedforseelse her i landet var denne store tjeneste, han havde ydet sin egen. 33

Venstrefolk har fejlfortolket følelsen i sine mange digte om soldater. Digtene i En Shropshire Lad forud for sin brors, Herberts, død i Boerkrigen i 1901, hvilket bekræftede, men ikke ændrede hans holdning. En dag kom en "Pro-Boer" professor med nogle respektløse bemærkninger om den engelske private soldat. Resultatet var en fremvisning af Housmans opfordring, som overraskede selv ”hans kolleger. 34 Frank Harris rosede i forgæves forsøg på at vinde ham over digterens "bitre sarkasme", som ifølge Harris "spøgte" med patriotisme og "gjorde en glimrende latterliggørelse af det." Housman afviste vredt komplimentet: "Jeg kan kun afvise og ærgre dig over din - din troculente ros." 35 Housman sagde senere, at "Frank Harris erindringer ikke er korrekte," 36, men der er ingen grund til at benægte, at Harris fortolkede En Shropshire Lad som hån mod patriotisme, og at han tog fejl.

Den fineste af disse digte, "Epitaph on an Army of Mercenaries" (Sidste digte 37), er et bittert ironisk forsvar for britiske soldater, der blev angrebet på kontinentet, fordi de ikke var en udkastet borgerhær, netop fordi de var professionelle og ikke havde brug for høje slagord for at udføre deres job: 37

Hvad Gud opgav, forsvarede disse
Og gemte summen af ​​ting til løn.

Percy Withers hævdede, at Housman "havde været omhyggelig med at undgå efterligning" i sin poesi. 38 Som Norman Marlow imidlertid viste: "Housman var faktisk ikke omhyggelig med at undgå efterligning - efterligningen er faktisk ved flere lejligheder så direkte, at han ser ud til at fremføre eksplicit hentydning til den tidligere passage." 39 Hans omfattende brug af tidligere forfattere, såsom Bibelen (især Prædikeren og Salmerne), Shakespeare og Matthew Arnold, former hans sprog og tilføjer dybde til hans enkelhed i måler og tema. Selvom Housmans følsomhed er romantisk, er hans poetik klassisk, baseret på klar og direkte imitatio, som skal observeres og beundres.

Housmans "Introductory Lecture", der blev holdt på University College, London, i 1892, var 40 delvist ideologisk konservative, da han benyttede lejligheden til at angribe synspunkterne fra to berømte liberale, Herbert Spencer og Matthew Arnold. Lyse studerende beundrede Spencer, 41, der fastholdt de tidlige liberales utilitaristiske trosbekendelse. Housman hånet Spencers vision om uddannelse og bemærkede, hvor lidt videnskab der er nødvendig for at tilfredsstille fysiske behov. Han afviste også Matthew Arnolds idé om, at læsning af stor litteratur gør dig til et bedre menneske. Viden, ligesom dyd, "er god i sig selv simpelthen" og "har lykke uløseligt bundet til det." "Stræben efter viden er ligesom jagten på retfærdighed en del af menneskets pligt overfor sig selv." Han kaldte senere foredraget "retorisk og ikke helt oprigtigt", 42 men hans påmindelse om, at ren forskning er uundværlig for menneskelig opfyldelse og bør være fri for begrænsninger af enten filistisk eller sentimental utilitarisme, er stadig relevant.

1911 Cambridge Indvielse var eksplicit konservativ. Den nye professor i latin angreb to fejl i samtidens filologi: bestræbelser på at gøre studiet af sprog og litteratur rent æstetisk (hovedsageligt en britisk kætteri) og forsøg på at gøre det for rent en videnskab (en typisk tysk fejl.) Der er ingen idiotsikker måde for at undgå de to ekstremer, men Housman foreslår en berøringssten, ærbødighed for fortiden:

Jeg talte lige nu om ydmyghed vist mod de levende, og jeg synes, det er vigtigt, at dette så ofte findes i selskab med mangel på behørig ærbødighed over for de døde. Mit råd er at vende denne holdning og tænke mere på de døde end om de levende. De døde har i hvert fald udholdt en test, som de levende endnu ikke er blevet udsat for. Hvis en mand, halvtreds eller hundrede år efter hans død, stadig huskes og regnes som en stor mand, er der en formodning til hans fordel, som ingen levende mennesker kan påstå, og erfaring har lært mig, at det ikke blot er formodning. Det er de døde og ikke de levende, der har mest avanceret vores læring og videnskab, og selvom deres viden kan være blevet afløst, er der ingen erstatning af fornuft og intelligens. Klar klogskab og rigtig tankegang er i det væsentlige hverken i dag eller i går, men historisk set er de snarere i går end i dag: og at studere de største forskere fra fortiden er at nyde samkvem med overlegne sind. Hvis vores opfattelse af stipendium og vores fremgangsmåder er i modstrid med deres, er det ikke en sikkerhed eller en nødvendighed, at vi tager fejl, men det er en god arbejdshypotese, og vi må hellere opgive det, før det viser sig uholdbart. Lad os ikke se bort fra vores samtidige, men lad os se mere på vores forgængere, lad os blive mest opmuntret af deres enighed og mest bekymrede over deres uenighed. 43

Housmans vision om videnskabelige fremskridt, der er tæt forbundet med tidligere præstationer, afspejles i hans udgaver, hvor han evaluerer tidligere lærdes arbejde. Hans universitetshelt, Hugh Munro, skrev om den store tyske lærde, Karl Lachmann, "Hans kærlighed til fortjenester af enhver art tilskynder ham til en iver efter at gøre retfærdighed over for alle de gamle lærde, der har gjort noget for sin forfatter, mens hans ærlige hån og had til pralende uvidenhed og uagtsom dovenskab tvinger ham til at fordømme dem, som han dømmer for disse lovovertrædelser. ” 44 Disse ord passer til Housman. Det hævngerrige vid, der stinker og stikker på side efter side i hans videnskabelige skrifter, er inspireret af vidne fra store forgængere som Lachmann og Munro.

Den stolte afslutning på forordet til det sidste bind af hans Manilius knytter Housman til de moralistiske traditioner i romersk historiografi. "Og den døve hugorm, selvom jeg næsten ikke kan sige, at hun har stoppet sine egne ører, er begyndt at kvæle hendes hvæser af frygt for, at de skulle nå eftertiden." 45 Disse ord gentager Tacitus påstand: praecipuum munus annalium reor ne virtutes sileantur utque pravis dictis factisque ex posteritate et infamia metus sit. "Historiens hovedopgave er at registrere dydige handlinger og sikre, at skamfulde ord og gerninger frygter efterkommers dårlige mening." (Tacitus, Annaler 3.65) Følelsen af ​​følelser forstærkes af Housmans brug af navneordene frygt og efterkommere, der matcher Tacitus efterkommer og metus.

Housman hånet "konservative forskere". "Det ville ikke være rigtigt at sige, at alle konservative forskere er dumme, men det er meget nær sandheden at sige, at alle dumme forskere er konservative." 46 "Konservativ" her er imidlertid et kunstbegreb for litteraturforskere, der accepterer teksten i manuskripter og trykte udgaver frem for at gennemgå den traditionelle filologidisciplin: indsamling af beviser (recensio), fortolker den resulterende tekst, hvor det er muligt (inter-pretatio) og foreslår korrektioner, når fortolkningen mislykkes (emendatio). Disse litteraturforskere er "konservative", men ikke traditionalister, der forstår, at deres første job er at lære tidligere tiders lektioner og tænke kritisk om, hvad vi har lært - men så endelig, hvis det er muligt, at reagere på den nuværende situation med nyhed og opfindelse.

Der findes ingen bedre beskrivelse af en god tekstkritikers dyder end "modet til at erkende det uundgåelige tab, der følger med forandringer og den efterspørgende intelligens til at reparere dette tab." 47 Forfatteren til disse ord, den fine litteraturkritiker, Guy Davenport, beskrev de politiske konservatives dyder. Som konservativ nærmede Housman sig tekster med en disposition til at bevare og en evne til at reformere. AC Clark, redaktør for Cicero og latinsk professor ved Oxford på Housmans tid, anerkendte sammenhængen i dette synspunkt, da han sagde: "Jeg er en konservativ, en konservativ i alt andet end tekstkritik." 48

De fleste kommentatorer er ikke enige. For Andrew Gow var Housman "en oprør tvunget 'af menneskets ondskab og Guds' til uvillig overensstemmelse med standarder, som han fordømte. . . med sit syn på livet som et ’langt fjols ærinde til graven.’ 49 Diskuterer Housmans poesi og prosa, understreger Christopher Ricks »den stålknude, der mest bidende binder de to: blasfemi. Digtets blasfemi er deres centrale energi. . . . Sidste digte IX slutter sig til at forbande 'Uanset hvilken brute eller blackguard der skabte verden', dirrende med den latterlige komedie om (i Samuel Becketts ord) en ateist, der chippede på guddom. Sidste digte XII scorer lige så højt, ’Guds love, menneskets love’. ”50 Richard Perceval Graves antager, at Sidste digte 12 er en bekendelse af Housmans tro. 51 Tom Burns Haber ringer Sidste digte 12 "en lidenskabelig anklage over 'Guds og menneskets veje', der havde forrådt Housman i sin uskyld til en eksistens, han hadede for dens ufrugtbarhed og ensomhed." Housmans poesi afslører "den lidenskabelige vrede fra en stolt og uforsonlig oprør mod et dårligt ordnet univers, der havde såret ham." 52 Terence Allan Hoagwood mener, at Housman var enig med en klassisk forsker, Friedrich Nietzsche, "at moralske systemer er hule fiktioner, der ofte bruges af de magtfulde til at undertrykke og undertrykke vildledte mennesker." 53

Disse kritikere stoler på to af Sidste digte. I Sidste digte 9 to unge mænd "er ikke de første", der har "forbandet/ uanset hvilken brutal og blackguard der har skabt verden." Sidste digte 12 begynder til gengæld med en galant trodsig taler, der minder om Miltons Satan:

Guds love, menneskets love,
Han kan beholde den vilje og kan
Ikke jeg: lad Gud og mennesket bestemme
Love for sig selv og ikke for mig
Og hvis mine veje ikke er som deres
Lad dem tænke på deres egne anliggender.
Jeg dømmer deres gerninger og fordømmer meget,
Men hvornår lavede jeg love for dem?

Biografer og kritikere hører med disse ord stemmen til en ung mand, der blev deist, da hans mor døde og en resolut ateist på 21, og som skrev vrede vers, der sagde, at Oscar Wilde blev fængslet "for farven på hans hår." 54 Housman kunne blive inspireret af faktiske begivenheder. En Shropshire Lad 44–45 sprang fra avisberetninger om selvmordet på en ung kadet. 55 Yderligere digte 18 er en vred parodi på anklagerne mod Oscar Wilde. Housman skrev også digte personligt. Han havde oprindeligt til hensigt at udgive En Shropshire Lad som den anonyme Digte af Terence Hearsay. 56 “Shropshire Lad er en imaginær figur,” skrev han, “med noget af mit temperament og livssyn. Meget lidt i bogen er biografisk. ” 57 Der er flere grunde til at tro det Sidste digte 9 og 12 tales også af imaginære karakterer og repræsenterer ikke Housmans filosofi og synspunkter.

Sidste digte 9 har for eksempel to treogtyve år gamle mænd, der drikker i en taverne, fordi regnvejret har ødelagt deres maj-planer. De er vrede og frustrerede:

Vi er med sikkerhed ikke de første
Har siddet i værtshuse, mens stormen slyngede
Deres håbefulde planer om tomhed og forbandelse
Uanset hvilken brutalitet og blackguard der skabte verden.
Det er i sandhed uretfærdighed i det høje
At snyde vore dømte sjæle for burde de længes efter,
Og ødelægge munterheden som dig og jeg
Fare for vores lange fjols ærinde til graven.
Uret er det kun passere dåsen.
Min dreng, ingen konger, vores mødre bar
Vores eneste del er menneskets ejendom:
Vi vil have månen, men vi får ikke mere.

I strofe efter strofe er læseren fjernet fra den tåbelige unge taler, der er vred på Gud for det dårlige vejr og synes, det er uretfærdigt (han siger "uretfærdighed" to gange), hvis han og hans ven "snydes" for, hvad de vil, når de vil have det. ("Maj bliver fint næste år som ikke/ Oh ay, men så bliver vi fireogtyve.") 58 Hyperbolten i "uanset hvilken brute og blackguard der gjorde verden," passer derfor med hans andre ekstreme og fjollede udsagn .

Læseren mindes også i hver anden strofe om, at de unge mænd drikker, hvilket er Housmans mest konsekvente poetiske symbol på utænkeligt afslag på at acceptere verden, som den er. Det er hans dominerende billede Ars Poetica, En Shropshire Lad 62 ("Terence, det er dumme ting"):

Og malt gør mere, end Milton kan
At retfærdiggøre Guds veje for mennesker.
Ale, mand, ale er ting at drikke
For stipendiater, som det gør ondt at tænke.

Sidste digte 9’s sidste strofe besidder en følelsesmæssig kraft mere kraftfuld end den åbne ironi, der gennemsyrer de tidligere strofer. Housman fortalte Sir Sydney Cockerell, at det blev skrevet mange år efter resten af ​​digtet, lige før Sidste digte udkom i 1922. 59

Problemer med vores stolte og vrede støv
Er fra evigheden, og skal ikke fejle.
Bær dem, vi kan, og hvis vi kan, må vi.
Skulder himlen, min dreng, og drik din øl.

Den sidste linje er utvetydig, og hamrer temaet om at drikke for at undgå at tænke og for så at undgå at se virkeligheden i øjnene, at verden ikke er skabt til at tilfredsstille vores ønsker. Det ser ikke ud til at være en tilfældighed, at det næste digt, Sidste digte 10, står klart i forhold til at drikke og tænke:

Kunne mennesket være fuld for evigt
Med spiritus, kærlighed eller slagsmål,
Lief skal jeg vække om morgenen
Og elsk ligge ned af nætter.

Men mænd mens de er ædru
Og tænk efter pas og starter,
Og hvis de tænker, spænder de fast
Deres hænder på deres hjerter.

Sidste digte 12 begynder med ti linjer i trods for "Guds love, menneskets love", men det efterfølges af ti linjer med åben erkendelse af nytteligheden af ​​dette trods. I den syvende og ottende linje i det andet afsnit genkender taleren sin egen svaghed:

Jeg, en fremmed og bange
I en verden jeg aldrig har skabt.

I de sidste fire linjer overgiver den besejrede højttaler sin trodsige pose:

Behold vi skal, hvis vi kan beholde,
Disse fremmede love for Gud og mennesker.

Dramatisk udvikling er ikke sædvanlig i Housmans vers, men i Sidste digte 12 ser vi åben trods skifte til tøven før fakta og kulminerer med endelig underkastelse, da oprøreren ender med at acceptere den overvældende kraft ved social konvention og traditionel moral. Det er et vellykket og kunstnerisk tilfredsstillende digt, men der er gode grunde til ikke at identificere højttaleren med A. E. Housman. 60 Professor Housman viet et offentligt foredrag, "Anvendelsen af ​​tanke til tekstkritik", 61 til at håne klassiske forskere, der redigerer tekster uden at tænke, ligesom Sidste digte 9 håner tankeløse unge mænd og Sidste digte 12 håner fjollet oprør mod konventionel moral. Housmans prosa udøver sarkastisk misbrug på forskere, der er for dovne og tankeløse til at finde ud af, hvordan manuskripter virkelig kopieres og fejlkopieres. "Hvordan verden styres, og hvorfor den blev skabt, kan jeg ikke fortælle, men det er ikke en fjer-seng for hvilen af ​​sløve." 62

Den gennemsnitlige mand, hvis han overhovedet blander sig i kritik, er en konservativ kritiker. Hans meninger bestemmes ikke af hans fornuft - "størstedelen af ​​menneskeheden," siger Swift, "er lige så kvalificeret til at flyve som til at tænke" - men af ​​hans lidenskaber og den svageste af alle menneskelige lidenskaber er kærligheden til sandheden. 63
[Reglen] er irrationel, for den involverer antagelsen om, at hvor som helst -en'S skriftlærde begik en fejl, de frembragte en umulig læsning. Tre minutters tanke ville være tilstrækkeligt til at finde ud af dette, men tanken er irriterende, og tre minutter er lang tid. 64

Naturligvis er der en mening, hvor forfatteren til Housmans videnskabelige artikler, anmeldelser og forord også er en person, der adskilte sig fra A. E. Housman, man mødte på High Table på Trinity College, Cambridge eller spiste frokost med sit forlag, Grant Richards. Denne persona kunne i det mindste behandles som A. E. Housman, de imaginære talere af Sidste digte 9 og 12 kan ikke.

Ved slutningen af ​​sit liv besvarede Housman en række spørgsmål sendt til ham af den unge Houston Martin. "I filosofien er jeg en kyrenaisk eller egoistisk hedonist og betragter øjeblikkets nydelse som det eneste mulige handlingsmotiv." 65 Han havde brugt disse udtryk til at beskrive sin filosofi i over tyve år. 66 Andrew Gow sagde ærligt: ​​"Hvis Housmans filosofi var sund, så var hans livs store ambition uopnåelig og dens forfølgelse forgæves," 67 citerede Flere digte 45 (opsat i type for Sidste digte men afvist i sidste øjeblik), hvor taleren ser menneskelig præstation som forbigående. “Hvad skal jeg bygge eller skrive/ Mod natfaldet? . . . Ikke noget."

På trods af at han ikke afsluttede sin afsluttende eksamen om gammel filosofi, vidste Housman nok til at forstå, at hans tab af tro førte til den kyrenaiske position. Mange viktorianere følte spændingen skabt af tabet af kristen tro, mens de stadig troede på moral og fortræffelighed, 68 inklusive figurer Housman læste og beundrede, såsom Matthew Arnold, Thomas Hardy og den konservative polemiker, W.H. Mallock. Alfred Pollard, den store engelske bibliograf, der boede sammen med Housman og Moses Jackson i Oxford, siger, at Housman nød Mallocks Er livet værd at leve? (London, 1880). 69 Mallocks første bog, den geniale roman à clef, Den nye republik (London, 1877), giver os et levende billede af Oxford i årene lige før Housmans studentereksamen. Dens hovedpersoner er to lærere, hvis klasser vi kender Housman deltog i, Jowett og Ruskin. 70 Det er Mallock, der synes at have lært Housman et af hans mest karakteristiske stilmæssige træk.

Forskellen mellem en istap og en rødglødende poker er virkelig meget mindre end forskellen mellem sandhed og løgn eller sans og nonsens, men det er meget mere umiddelbart mærkbart og meget mere universelt bemærket, fordi kroppen er mere følsom end sindet. Jeg finder derfor, at en god måde at afsløre falskheden i et udsagn eller absurditeten i et argument i tekstkritik er at omsætte det til sensuelle udtryk og se, hvordan det ser ud dengang. 71

Denne trope bruges igen og igen i Mallock’s Er livet værd at leve?:

Vi kalder ikke en vildbjørn tam, fordi den er så godt i bure, at der ikke er frygt for, at den angriber os, og vi kalder ikke en mand god, for selvom hans ønsker er onde, har vi gjort ham bange for at tilfredsstille dem.
Social lykke er blot et sæt cifre, indtil enheden med personlig lykke er placeret foran den. . . . Hvis vores største glæde var at se hinanden danse dåsen, kan det være moral for os alle at danse. Ikke desto mindre ville dette være en lykkelig verden, ikke fordi vi alle dansede, men fordi vi hver især nød at se sådan et skuespil.

Mallock lærte Housman et karakteristisk retorisk redskab, men hans bog kom med et vigtigt filosofisk punkt: et liv uden Gud ender i en filosofisk og moralsk blindgyde. Dem, der mangler Housmans mentale klarhed, kan undgå den konklusion. Housman mistede troen, men ikke forstanden. Hvis der ikke er nogen Gud, som han kom til at tro, da han var 21, så er øjeblikkets glæde logisk det eneste motiv for menneskelig handling. Han søgte aldrig tilflugt bag social aktivisme for at skjule betydningen af ​​hans tab af tro for sig selv.

Housmans søster Clemence og bror Laurence var berygtede forkæmpere for kvinders stemmeret, 72 men han behandlede kvinders rettigheder med dryppende sarkasme. 73 Laurence var medlem af Society of Chaeronea, der i hemmelighed arbejdede for "homoseksuelle rettigheder". 74 A. E. Housman diskuterede dog aldrig emnet med sin bror Yderligere digte 18 afslørede, at Oscar Wilde -skandalen gjorde ham ked af det. Laurence udgav det, fordi "selvom det ikke er af høj standard, siger det noget, som A.E.H. ville meget gerne sige. ” 75 Det var Laurence, der ville have, at hans bror sagde det, og det gjorde han aldrig. Selvom han proklamerede sin ateisme, roste han højkirkelig anglikanisme som "meget den bedste religion, jeg nogensinde er stødt på" 76 og skrev en salme, der skulle synges ved hans begravelse i Trinity College Chapel (More Poems 47). In our search for the basis of his lifework, his atheism and sympathy for Oscar Wilde are red herrings. His poetry and scholarship were written not by a militant atheist or a gay rights activist like his brother, but by a man who was outraged by failure in the search for truth, and even lapses in accuracy. (“Accuracy is a duty and not a virtue.”) 77 He treated the moral virtues, including patriotism, the love of beauty, the search for truth, and friendship as realities that imposed lifelong obligations. He lived and wrote as though morality and duty were real, not “hollow fictions.”

Before everything else, Housman was a conservative and a traditionalist. He remained loyal to the traditions of his people, his class, and his profession even after he lost his religious faith and the one person he loved above all others. Housman called himself a Cyrenaic, but it was his conservatism, not egoistic hedonism, that makes sense out of his life’s work. Behind the lovely verse, the brilliant conjectures, the searing prose, stood a man who was committed to love, truth, and loyalty to friend and country.

Housman rarely tried to explain the intellectual foundations of his greatness in poetry and scholarship. That greatness itself, however, he recognized. His personal life was frustrated. The poetry published in his lifetime hints at that frustration, which is revealed more completely in his posthumously published verse. The best description of his situation does not come from there, however, or from parallels like Oscar Wilde and Friedrich Nietzsche, but from his great contemporary, William Butler Yeats, who was more of a conservative revolutionary than a traditionalist.

The intellect of man is forced to choose
Perfection of the life, or of the work,
And if it take the second must refuse
A heavenly mansion, raging in the dark. 78

Perhaps we concentrate too much on Housman’s raging in the dark. Whatever his personal life was like, Housman’s lifework, poetry and scholarship, was a triumphant unity of beauty and truth. Many can feel this of his poetry. It is true also of his great editions, which juxtapose his own searing prose with great Classical poetry, uniting reverence for (the manuscript) tradition, interpretive understanding of the transmitted text, and an insight which restores our contact with the past in epiphanies of creativity (his best conjectural restorations of the text). Those who work through his Lucan, Juvenal, eller Manilius experience that unity of ancient poetry and modern scholarship, of beauty and truth. His poetry lacks a vision of that triumphant interaction of personal sacrifice, rigorous logic, and moving beauty linked to a sense of mystery that surpasses all. Again we need to turn to Yeats and his great ode on education, “Among School Children.”

Labour is blossoming or dancing where
The body is not bruised to pleasure soul,
Nor beauty born out of its own despair,
Nor blear-eyed wisdom out of midnight oil.
Oh chestnut tree, great-rooted blossomer,
Are you the leaf, the blossom or the bole?
Oh body swayed to music, oh brightening glance,
How can we know the dancer from the dance? 79


Poetic Career of AE Housman

After studying in Oxford, Housman along with Moses Jackson moved to London. Moses received a job as a clerk at the Patent’s Office where he sorts something out for Housman as well. They lived together until 1885 when Jackson moved to India and Housman took his own lodging in London. All this happened when Housman was still an undergraduate.

While he was on his journey of completing graduation, he decided to gain some Latin proficiency. Moses Jackson’s brother – Adalbert Jackson’s death occurred in 1892. He is remembered by Housman in his ‘More Poems’ in 1936.

A portrait of Moses Jackson when young.

He gained respect and reputation when he published the scholarly works of Quintus Horatius Flaccus who is more commonly known as ‘Horace’ – a Roman lyric poet. He also published works of Ovid, Aeschylus, Euripides, and Sophocles. He received great recognition across England and was offered Professorship by University College, London.

His area of expertise was Latin and Greek poetry. However, he stopped working on Greek Poetry after a while. In the year 1911, he received Professorship of Latin in Trinity College, Cambridge and remained there for the rest of his life.

In 1921, he published a paper ‘The Application of Thought to Textual Criticism’ where he focused on how Textual criticism is a science as well as an art. According to him, it was the science of discovery of errors and the art of correcting and improving them.


Poem Analysis: Neutral Tones By Thomas Hardy

Neutral Tones Analysis The poem ‘Neutral Tones’ by Thomas Hardy is a dark, solemn poem, reflecting on the termination of a relationship that he had in the late 1860s. It has a very melancholic note and in the duration of the poem, he shows the sadness and emotions in the narrator. The poem was published in 1898, however at the bottom of the poem he marked it as being written in 1867, perhaps he did not want it to be published then, before he met Eliza Nickels. It has a rhyme pattern of ABBA as&hellip


BIBLIOGRAFI

Bøger

Aldington, Richard. A. E. Housman and W. B. Yeats. New York: Peacock Press, 1955.

Bourne, Jeremy. The Westerly Wanderer: A Brief Portrait of A. E. Housman Author of “A Shropshire Lad” 1896–1996. Bromsgrove, England: Housman Society, 1996.

Clemens, Cyril. An Evening with A. E. Housman. Folcroft, Pa.: Folcroft Library Editions, 1977.

Graves, Richard Perceval. A. E. Housman: The Scholar-Poet. New York: Scribner, 1979.

Haber, Tom Burns. A. E. Housman. New York: Twayne, 1967.

Hawkins, Maude M. A. E. Housman: Man Behind a Mask. Washington, D.C.: Henry Regnery, 1958.

Housman, Laurence. My Brother, A. E. Housman. New York: Scribner, 1938.

Ricks, Christopher, ed. A. E. Housman: A Collection of Critical Essays. Upper Saddle River, N.J.: Prentice Hall,1968.

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Housman, Alfred Edward

Housman, Alfred Edward ( 1859–1936 ), poet and classical scholar , was born on 26 March 1859 at Valley House, Fockbury, a hamlet near Bromsgrove, Worcestershire, the first of the seven children (born within the space of ten years) of Edward Housman (1831–1894) , solicitor, and his wife, Sarah Jane (1828–1871) , daughter of the Revd John Williams , rector of Woodchester, Gloucestershire. Shortly afterwards the family moved to Perry Hall, Bromsgrove (later a hotel), where Housman spent his childhood. Of his siblings, Laurence Housman (1865–1959) became a successful writer and his brother's literary executor, while Clemence Annie Housman was a noted illustrator and suffragette campaigner. Though he came to be popularly associated with the neighbouring county of Shropshire, Housman insisted that he did not know Shropshire well and freely admitted that his poems contained topographical errors: the fact that in his early years ' its hills were our western horizon ' ( letter to Maurice Pollet, 5 Feb 1933, Breve ) qualified it as a territory that dreams are made of.

Childhood and schooling

A happy childhood was terminated by the death of Housman's mother, after a long illness, on his twelfth birthday. Towards the end of his life he told Pollet that he ' became a deist at thirteen and an atheist at twenty-one ' and that reading Lemprière's Classical Dictionary from the age of eight ' attached my affections to paganism ' ( Breve, 328 ). His father subsequently married a cousin, Lucy Housman (on 26 June 1873), and Housman quickly formed a good relationship with his stepmother, as is evident from his earliest surviving letter, written to her during a visit to London (probably his first) in January 1875. Following his second marriage Edward Housman moved back to Fockbury, settling at Fockbury House (also known as Clock House), Catshill. After receiving his first lessons from a governess, Housman attended a dame-school in Bromsgrove, winning a scholarship to Bromsgrove School in July 1870. Under Herbert Millington , headmaster from 1873 and an enthusiastic teacher of Latin and Greek, he was groomed for an Oxford classical scholarship. Unsuccessful at his first attempt, he was awarded a scholarship at St John's College in June 1877 and went into residence in October.

Oxford and the civil service

In two different though possibly related ways Housman's time at Oxford profoundly affected his subsequent life. It began promisingly: in his second term he was among the top six candidates for the Hertford scholarship and in 1879 was placed third in the competition for the Newdigate prize, as well as obtaining a first class in honours moderations. There were, however, symptoms of an intellectual self-assurance hazardously verging on arrogance: after attending one lecture given by Benjamin Jowett , regius professor of Greek, he declined to waste his time on another, and he spoke contemptuously of the classical attainments of his college tutors. The passion for accurate learning and the unconcealed, and often gleeful, scorn for those who failed to live up to the highest standards—attributes that proved to be characteristic of the mature scholar—were already evident in the undergraduate. In practical terms, his disrespect for his mentors and for the official course of study led him to pursue private enthusiasms, specifically the text of Propertius , when he should have been reading the philosophers and historians assigned in the Greats syllabus.

At some stage Housman fell in love with Moses Jackson , a college contemporary who had come up with a science scholarship, and whose interests were athletic rather than literary. This love—intense, lifelong, and seemingly unrequited—came to exert a deep influence on Housman's poetry, as well as on his personal life. In his fourth year he moved out of college and shared rooms with Jackson and another friend, Alfred Pollard (later a distinguished bibliographer), in a house, now demolished, in St Giles'. His infatuation with Jackson may well have led him further to neglect the prescribed studies, and the outcome was as uncompromising as it was startling to those who knew him: in the finals examinations that began on 27 May 1881 the examiners had no choice but to fail him outright. In October he returned to Oxford for one term in order to satisfy the residence requirement for a pass degree: he was successful in the examination the following summer but waited ten years before proceeding to the degree.

At the end of 1881 Housman returned to Bromsgrove to prepare for the civil service entrance examination, held in June. His success led to the offer of a post in Dublin, which he declined a clerkship in the Patent Office in London, at an annual salary of £100 , proved less unattractive, for Moses Jackson was already employed in the same institution, though in a considerably less humble capacity than Housman was now to fill. He promptly found lodgings at 15 Northumberland Place, Bayswater, and began a ten-year period of servitude as a higher division clerk in the trade marks registry . Early in the following year he moved to 82 Talbot Road, Bayswater (where he is now commemorated by a plaque), sharing a home with Moses and his younger brother Adalbert , a classics student at University College. Adalbert , the ' A.J.J. ' of poem 42 in More Poems , died of typhoid fever in 1892 at the age of twenty-seven. There is no evidence to support the suggestion that Housman formed a romantic, and perhaps a sexual, relationship with Adalbert , though it is by no means impossible. What is known is that towards the end of 1885 Housman left the shared home in dramatic circumstances (he disappeared for a week) and did not return. In 1887 Moses Jackson took up a teaching position in India, and in later years his meetings with Housman were very infrequent. After quitting the Jacksons and spending a brief period in lodgings at 39 Northumberland Place, Bayswater, Housman moved to Byron Cottage, 17 North Road, Highgate (the site of another commemorative plaque), where he remained for nineteen years. When in 1905 his landlady moved to 1 Yarborough Villas, Pinner, Middlesex, he moved with her.

The classical scholar

Very soon after settling in London Housman had begun to work in the evenings in the British Museum Library, and as early as 1882 had begun to publish in important journals a series of papers on textual criticism, at this stage working on both Greek and Latin authors. On 11 December 1885 he offered Macmillan his edition of Propertius : the offer was declined and the edition never published, but by 1892 he had twenty-five papers to his credit. On the strength of this record he applied in April 1892 to University College, London, where chairs of Latin and Greek had been advertised, expressing an interest in both, with a preference for the Latin chair. His letter of application noted, perhaps uniquely, that he had ' failed to obtain honours in the Final School of Literae Humaniores ', and added, pointedly, that for the past ten years ' the study of the Classics has been the chief occupation of my leisure ' he enclosed a printed booklet containing seventeen testimonials from some of the most distinguished classical scholars of the day. He was offered the chair of Latin on 24 May and took up his duties in the autumn.

For nearly nineteen years Housman served University College well, contributing to its administration and its social life, as well as being responsible, at first almost single-handedly, for the teaching of Latin, and playing a significant role in improving the college's academic reputation, at a low ebb on his arrival. He formed particularly happy relationships with W. P. Ker , who had become professor of English in 1889, and Arthur Platt , who became professor of Greek in 1894. Housman was active in the college literary society, delivering witty addresses on various English poets. A very early example of his skill as a public speaker is the introductory lecture delivered on 3 October 1892 (published 1937).

A Shropshire Lad and public acclaim

From 1897 Housman frequently took holidays on the continent, especially in France and Italy, where he was able to indulge his enthusiasm for ecclesiastical architecture and fine food and wine. Despite a heavy burden of teaching, most of it at an elementary level, he continued his researches, producing during his years in Gower Street not only a number of learned papers, but also editions of Ovid (1894) and Juvenal (1905 2nd edn, 1931), as well as the first instalment of his edition of Manilius (1903), dedicated to Jackson . But the most celebrated as well as the most inexplicable production of this period was his collection of sixty-three lyrics, A Shropshire Lad (1896). In the important letter to Pollet already cited Housman states that his ' most prolific period ' as a poet was ' the first five months of 1895 ' ( Breve, 329 ), and it is striking that this period coincided with the arrest, trials, and imprisonment of Oscar Wilde , who was sentenced on 25 May and was the unnamed subject of one of Housman's most compelling poems ( Additional Poems , 18). Originally titled Poems by Terence Hearsay , the volume was refused by Macmillan , but published by Kegan Paul in March 1896 at Housman's expense. A second edition, in September 1898, was issued by another publisher, Grant Richards , who became a close friend. Though not an instant success, the little volume gradually won a large audience through the universality of its dominant themes (nature, love, war, and death) and the directness of its language and rhythms. In a period of war, uneasy peace, and rapid social change, Housman was one of the most familiar and most highly regarded of the poets of his time. His celebration of landscapes and a rural life distinctively and traditionally English contributed to his poetry's appeal.

By that time Housman had moved from London to Cambridge, where he spent the remainder of his life. The chair of Latin there fell vacant in December 1910, and in the following month Housman accepted the post (shortly afterwards renamed the Kennedy professorship), as well as a fellowship at Trinity College, while his old Oxford college, St John's, elected him to an honorary fellowship on 1 May. He took up residence in Cambridge in May and, after living briefly in lodgings at 32 Panton Street, moved into rooms in a distant corner of Trinity (Whewell's Court, K staircase). His inaugural lecture, published only in 1969 (as The Confines of Criticism ), was given promptly on 9 May and judged ‘brilliant’ by its audience. During the next quarter of a century, and almost until the day of his death, Housman lectured on textual criticism and pursued studies that resulted in a large body of articles, as well as an edition of Lucan (1926 2nd edn, 1927), and the remaining four books of the astronomer–poet Manilius (completed 1930). The latter, a task in which his predecessors included Scaliger and Bentley , was conceived by its editor as his monument.

While Housman enjoyed the conveniences, and especially the gastronomic delights, available to a bachelor don in the period, his rooms were spartan and his devotion to his work unremitting. Although addicted to solitary walks, and with a reputation for unapproachability, he could also be convivial, and had a considerable reputation as a raconteur and an after-dinner speaker. He continued until very near the end of his life to travel to France for holidays, one Paris restaurant naming a dish after him (barbue Housman ). It seems likely that these visits also provided opportunities for homosexual adventures. In his later years he took great pleasure in making his journeys to Paris by aeroplane.

The growing popularity of A Shropshire Lad produced many enquiries concerning a successor—all firmly discouraged by Housman , who affected pride in his own poetic ' barrenness ', until, towards the end of 1920, he displayed a sudden interest in publishing a further volume. The result was the defiantly titled Sidste digte , published on 19 October 1922 to considerable acclaim: a leader in Tiderne was devoted to its author on the day of publication, and 21,000 copies had been printed by the end of year. The impetus for its publication was perhaps provided by the knowledge that Moses Jackson , now retired and living in Vancouver, was suffering from stomach cancer. On the day of publication a copy was dispatched to Jackson , who died on 14 January 1923. Despite its title, Sidste digte was supplemented by the posthumous More Poems (1936), selected, ' by his permission, not by his wish ' ( preface ), by Laurence Housman , and by the 'Additional Poems' included in Laurence's A.E.H. (1937). Published in the same year as T. S. Eliot's The Waste Land , Sidste digte remains resolutely traditional in subject matter and style, reflecting a pastoral England that moved rapidly towards extinction during Housman's lifetime. However, the poems' distinctive blend of lapidary phrasing, musicality (there is considerable variety and subtlety in the handling of metrical forms), and sentiments evoking a universal response guaranteed him a continuing public. On Housman's own admission, his poetic manner owes less to the mainstream traditions of Victorian or Georgian verse than to the border ballads, Shakespeare's songs, and Heine .

Later years and reputation

It was as poet rather than as classical scholar that Housman , in his later years, enjoyed considerable fame, but attempts to turn the conversation towards his poetry were discouraged, sometimes peremptorily, and honorary degrees from a number of universities (including, twice, Oxford) were all declined, as was, in 1929, the Order of Merit. Although unwilling to accept the Clark lectureship at Cambridge, he delivered the Leslie Stephen lecture in 1933: the result was The Name and Nature of Poetry , which includes some unexpectedly personal reflections on poetic composition, as well as a thinly veiled attack on the new Cambridge critics, and was in printed form a best-seller. By this time, though still carrying out his academic duties, Housman was a tired and ailing man. Only a week before his death he gave the first two lectures advertised for the Easter term of 1936, but was too weak to continue. He died from myocarditis in the Evelyn Nursing Home, Trumpington Road, Cambridge, on 30 April 1936, and on 25 July his ashes were interred against the north wall of St Laurence's, Ludlow, Shropshire. On 22 March 1985 a statue was unveiled at Bromsgrove in his honour, and in 1996 a memorial was housed in Poets' Corner, Westminster Abbey. Housman is the central character in Tom Stoppard's play The Invention of Love (1997).

Slight of build, precise of speech, and conservative in dress, Housman acquired a reputation for dryness and even severity of manner that represented only one aspect of a complex nature. Notorious for withering sarcasms, employed to admirable effect in his castigation of incompetent fellow editors, he also possessed a strong sense of fun and was a gifted writer of comic verse and parodies. His letters have an epigrammatic wit and an unfailing elegance of phrasing. While making no secret of his unwillingness to suffer fools gladly, he was capable of lasting friendships with such diverse figures as Grant Richards , Gilbert Murray , William Rothenstein , and Witter Bynner .

Housman would probably have wished to be remembered primarily as a textual editor in the great tradition of Bentley and Porson —and he retains an awed respect among classical scholars—but the poems whose authorship he was not eager to acknowledge have achieved a more widespread and more enduring fame. They continue to find readers worldwide and have been a source of inspiration for many composers. At the same time Housman merits recognition as a prose stylist in the tradition of Dr Johnson and as an epigrammatist in that of Oscar Wilde .


Alfred Edward Housman (1859-1936)

The author of A Shropshire Lad was in fact born in Worcestershire, on 26 March 1859. He was brought up as a devout Christian, but the death of his mother on his twelfth birthday would eventually lead him to reject religion altogether. He read classics at St John’s College, Oxford, where he met and fell unrequitedly in love with a fellow-student called Moses Jackson. Having unexpectedly failed his finals, he became a clerk in the Patent Office in London, where Jackson was also employed. The two men shared lodgings for a period, but parted after some kind of quarrel, perhaps because Housman had explained his feelings: several posthumously published poems seem to suggest this. Housman was meanwhile spending his spare time working on classical texts, and the articles he contributed to scholarly magazines gained him such a reputation that in 1892 he was appointed to the Chair of Latin at University College, London. Jackson, meanwhile, had joined the Indian Civil Service, married, and was living in Karachi.

Housman had written poetry since childhood, mostly light verse, but in the late 1880s he began writing the poems that would be published in 1896 as A Shropshire Lad – the majority of them in a sudden burst of creativity in 1895. ‘My chief object in publishing my verses was to give pleasure to a few young men here and there,’ he once said, and although the poems were at first slow to sell, their prevailing mood of romantic melancholy, their depiction of thwarted or unrequited love, and their railing against the injustices of life soon gained him readers, and the book has never once been out of print. Shropshire had been the western horizon of Housman’s childhood, becoming in his adult imagination a ‘land of lost content’, and A Shropshire Lad is suffused with love, loss and longing, alongside affection for the quiet places of the English countryside and for the young men who lived there and all too often would ‘die in their glory and never be old’. This phrase comes from ‘The lads in their hundreds to Ludlow come in for the fair’, one of the poems that prompted Robert Lowell to write: ‘One feels that Housman foresaw the Somme’. Housman indeed wrote most of the poems some twenty years before the outbreak of the First World War and is, if anything, a poet of the Boer War (in which his youngest brother was killed) but poems about ‘soldiers marching all to die’ while bystanders ‘watch them depart on the way that they will not return’ would have a particular resonance for the generation of 1914.

By 1911 A Shropshire Lad was selling an astonishing 13,500 copies a year. The poems were further popularized during this period by English composers such as Vaughan Williams, Butterworth, Somervell and Gurney, who in search of an English equivalent of the German Lieder tradition, began setting Housman’s words. According to the poet Robert Nichols, by 1914 A Shropshire Lad was ‘in every pocket’, and there are many stories of young men – Siegfried Sassoon, Ivor Gurney and Patrick Shaw-Stewart among them – taking their copies of the book to war with them. Rupert Brooke, Charles Sorley and Wilfred Owen also admired and were influenced by the poems, and those about doomed lads, ‘handsome of face and [. . .] handsome of heart’, served as models for many war poets’ elegies for dead friends. The only poem Housman wrote directly about the conflict, ‘Epitaph on an Army of Mercenaries’, was published in Tiderne on 31 October 1917 and described by Kipling as ‘the finest lines of poetry written during the war’.


Prose & Poetry - Alfred Edward Housman

Alfred Edward Housman (1859-1936) was born in Bromsgrove on 26 March 1859, the eldest of seven children.

After Bromsgrove School he won a scholarship to St. John's College, Oxford, in 1877. Despite gaining a First Class Honours in Classical Moderations Housman failed his Greats and so left Oxford without a degree in 1881.

After leaving Oxford he spent a time teaching at his old school before taking and successfully gaining a pass degree at Oxford. He subsequently took up employment at the London Patent Office.

On the strength of articles published in various classical journals, Housman was appointed Professor of Latin at University College London in 1892 where he remained until 1911. He published what was to become his most famous work, A Shropshire Lad, in 1896, at his own expense after several publishers turned it down. It gained in popularity during the First World War.

In 1911 Housman became Kennedy Professor of Latin at Cambridge he spent the rest of his life as a Fellow at Trinity College. In 1922 he published a second volume of verse, Sidste digte, followed posthumously by More Poems og Additional Poems.

During the First World War Housman published several poems about the conflict including Epitaph on an Army of Mercenaries (1914), written after the First Battle of Ypres.

Alfred Edward Housman died on 30 April 1936.

Epitaph on Army of Mercenaries (1914)
These, in the days when heaven was falling,
The hour when earth's foundations fled,
Followed their mercenary calling
And took their wages and are dead.

Their shoulders held the sky suspended
They stood, and the earth's foundations stay
When God abandoned, these defended,
And saved the sum of things for pay.

Lørdag, 22. august, 2009 Michael Duffy

German losses at Messines were 25,000, of which 7,500 were taken prisoner. British casualties were 17,000 killed or wounded.

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By 1914, A Shropshire Lad was selling upwards of 10,000 copies a year, and it went to war in the packs of many literary-minded soldiers. (Housman commented wryly on this phenomenon: “The advertisement to which I am always looking forward: a soldier is to receive a bullet in the breast, and it is to be turned aside from his heart by a copy of A Shropshire Lad which he is carrying there. Hitherto it is only the Bible that has performed this trick.”) On the Western Front, Housman’s doomed lads and English nostalgia spoke powerfully to young soldiers, and Parker traces the echoes of his poems in the work of war poets such as Edward Thomas and Rupert Brooke. Later, Housman’s poems would be set to music by a wide range of English composers the glum rocker Morrissey was a natural fan.

Today, in the age of Brexit and the renewed movement for Scottish independence, the question of what Englishness means is once again up for debate. For nativist movements like the UK Independence Party, as for xenophobes across Europe, national identity is usually a matter of ethnic exclusivity and economic isolation. Reading Housman suggests an alternative to this kind of aggressive nationalism—an Englishness whose sources are nature and memory, melancholy and reserve. Of course, this poetic vision can encompass only a small part of what England means not everyone can live in Housman country. But after more than a century, his poetry remains one of England’s most humane and appealing reflections.


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