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A Short Analysis of A. E. Housman’s ‘Tarry, delight, so seldom met’

Housman’s poem about fleeting happiness

Happiness doesn’t tend to stick around for long. As Dianna Wynne Jones put it, ‘Happiness isn’t a thing. You can’t go out and get it like a cup of tea. It’s the way you feel about things.’ But as Robert Frost observed, happiness makes up for in height what it lacks in length. A. E. Housman (1859-1936) was a poet of unhappiness (perhaps the English laureate of unhappiness), but in this short poem, he turns his attention to delight, remarking on how short-lived and rare it is:

Tarry, delight, so seldom met,
So sure to perish, tarry still;
Forbear to cease or languish yet,
Though soon you must and will.

By Sestos town, in Hero’s tower,
On Hero’s heart Leander lies;
The signal torch has burned its hour
And sputters as it dies.

Beneath him, in the nighted firth,
Between two continents complain Read the rest of this entry


A Short Analysis of A. E. Housman’s ‘Give Me a Land of Boughs in Leaf’

A short analysis of a classic autumnal poem by A. E. Housman (1859-1936)

Much of A. E. Housman’s poetry requires no analysis or criticism; its meaning is plain enough to the reader. But the following poem, poem VIII from the posthumously published More Poems (1936) – sometimes known by its first line, ‘Give me a land of boughs in leaf’ – is a particularly fine example of Housman’s style and a brief analysis of it may help to elucidate some of its subtler effects.

Give me a land of boughs in leaf,
A land of trees that stand;
Where trees are fallen, there is grief;
I love no leafless land. Read the rest of this entry