Reply to A. E. Housman


Oh Shropshire Lad, look in my eyes, and

     tell me one more time

The glory and the fortune one gains

     dying in his prime--


To fling the heavy discus far

     but never hear its fall

To only know life's largest thrills

     and never feel the small--


Oh don't deny, my lightfoot lad

      Death was your greatest fear

So did you prove, avoiding it for

     For seventy-seven years!


  • Author: jarcher54 (Offline Offline)
  • Published: August 20th, 2023 10:53
  • Comment from author about the poem: Every poet should be at least lightly familiar with the lovely short poems of A E Housman, particularly the Shropshire Lad series in which the narrator ironically applauds the youthful athletic prowess of the lad and dismisses the idea of a long and dull life. The heroic lad that we know is headed to an early demise in the gory trenches of WWI. Housman himself lived a long and peaceful life. I wrote this in 1971, and but for a couple edits, have left it intact. I just stumbled on it and decided to share.
  • Category: Reflection
  • Views: 41
  • User favorite of this poem: aDarkerMind.
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  • orchidee

    Good write J.

  • sorenbarrett

    I am so glad that you decided to share this one. It reads so well and hits me deep. The second stanza grabbed me and said it all. I thank you for putting it in context with your note. It truly reads as a classic.

  • Doggerel Dave

    "should" - hasn't - will.
    Reflection? No, definitely a refutation.
    Which doesn't alter my intention as above.
    A smooth gem full of truth - Thanks.

    • jarcher54

      I think Housman knew he was being ironic... trying to make the best of it maybe? Thanks DD!

    • Jon Nakapalau

      Well done!

      • jarcher54

        Thank you sir! I have been too busy to check in much lately, so thanks for the incentive to peek in!

      • Neville

        I am delighted that you should honour said war poet .. I have long been a fan .. not only of him but of Wilfred Owen, Siegfried Sassoon and so very many others .. each one worthy of a read .. I am glad I passed by this way today my friend ... Neville

        • jarcher54

          There is something extra compelling about those fellows... having such a black world all around you, and losing friends and limbs and... sigh

        • aDarkerMind

          and what a share this is;
          a true work of art.

          • jarcher54

            Bene grazi'... the last line was a bit of black humor gone slightly askew... the middle stanza came out just right, but the ending could be reworked to be more.... serious?

          • hzugman

            Love it!

            • jarcher54

              Thanks! Your appreciation is a nice thing.

            • Bobby O

              I really like the piece, even more so after reading it’s history and appliqué .

              • jarcher54

                I'm more well-read than I am productive... I'm actually quite intimidated by all the great poets and writers of history, and by the better posters on MPS. Thanks for the comment...

                • Bobby O

                  Your phrasing is in great order and in the spirit of metonymy , displayed with excellent exact placement

                • Norman Flagtea

                  I came across your poem only now and like it a lot!!
                  Please post some more,,

                • Quemis


                  Really love this one. The flow is perfect. Reminds me of a mix of Dahl and Robert Service.

                  Perfect, to the point. Funny.

                  • jarcher54

                    Yes, my scheme was to be somber and then hit with the punchline.

                    Great to hear from you old boy!

                  • Thomas W Case

                    Brilliant work. The theme resonates.

                  • Parisab

                    So exquisite! I also would like nothing more than your insight about the classics on this site…

                  • sorenbarrett

                    This was masterfully written and crafted. A wonderful write.

                    • jarcher54

                      I am such a perfectionist it's hard to let something go!

                    • Thomas W Case

                      Tremendous work.

                      • jarcher54

                        I so appreciate your comment, as well as your poetry. I can tell you are a serious person who has things to say!

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