Literature

‘White in the Moon the Long Road Lies’: A Poem by A. E. Housman

‘White in the Moon the Long Road Lies’: in this poem, the king of lugubrious English verse, A. E. Housman (1859-1936), writes about leaving his beloved, with the road lying ahead of him that ‘leads me from my love’. And although he trusts that the same road will eventually lead him back to his love, first he must travel far, far away.

White in the moon the long road lies,
The moon stands blank above;
White in the moon the long road lies
That leads me from my love.

Still hangs the hedge without a gust,
Still, still the shadows stay:
My feet upon the moonlit dust
Pursue the ceaseless way.

The world is round, so travellers tell,
And straight though reach the track,
Trudge on, trudge on, ’twill all be well,
The way will guide one back.

But ere the circle homeward hies
Far, far must it remove:
White in the moon the long road lies
That leads me from my love.

If you like ‘White in the Moon the Long Road Lies’, you can read more of A. E. Housman’s poetry here.

5 Comments

  1. Love this one!

  2. isabellacatolica

    The use of “one” in the third verse is so fateful: the line, its sense and metre, seems to ask for “me” to be written there; and, until that point the thoughts seem positive – the poet will pursue the way, and all will be well; indeed the way itself will be the guide. But “me” is not written there. With the more distant and objective “one” we fear, suddenly, that all will not, in fact, be well. At best, whether the poet will ever regain his love is left uncertain. And in the way of these things, we fear the worst.

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