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