‘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. Read the rest of this entry
‘Stars, I have seen them fall…’: this short eight-line poem by A. E. Housman (1859-1936) is untitled, so we’ve given its first line here. Although the stars seem to fall, they remain in the sky; although rain falls into the sea, the sea remains the same saltwater it has always been. Housman’s poem is about futility, and offers a less celebratory take on the stars in the night sky than the one we tend to get from much (especially Romantic) poetry.
Stars, I have seen them fall,
But when they drop and die
No star is lost at all
From all the star-sown sky.
The toil of all that be
Helps not the primal fault; Read the rest of this entry
The bells ring out for the New Year in this poem, ‘New Year’s Eve’, from A. E. Housman (1859-1936). But they are ‘ringing no tune’, and, ominously, ‘dead knells’. The poem doesn’t reflect new beginnings but rather the death throes of an old order: old religions, old kingdoms, old empires.
New Year’s Eve
The end of the year fell chilly
Between a moon and a moon;
Thorough the twilight shrilly
The bells rang, ringing no tune.
The windows stained with story,
The walls with miracle scored,
Were hidden for gloom and glory
Filling the house of the Lord. Read the rest of this entry