A powerful Easter poem by one of the most famous atheist poets
The poet A. E. Housman (1859-1936) published just two volumes of poems in his lifetime: A Shropshire Lad (1896) and Last Poems (1922). Yet he remains one of the most widely-read poets of his era, on the strength of these two books and a selection of posthumously published poems. ‘Easter Hymn’ opens More Poems, which was published shortly after Housman’s death in 1936.
If in that Syrian garden, ages slain,
You sleep, and know not you are dead in vain,
Nor even in dreams behold how dark and bright
Ascends in smoke and fire by day and night
The hate you died to quench and could but fan,
Sleep well and see no morning, son of man.
But if, the grave rent and the stone rolled by,