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A. E. Housman

  • English poet
  • Born March 26, 1859
  • Died April 30, 1936

Alfred Edward Housman (; 26 March 1859 – 30 April 1936), usually known as A. E. Housman, was an English classical scholar and poet, best known to the general public for his cycle of poems A Shropshire Lad. Lyrical and almost epigrammatic in form, the poems wistfully evoke the dooms and disappointments of youth in the English countryside. Their beauty, simplicity and distinctive imagery appealed strongly to Edwardian taste, and to many early 20th-century English composers both before and after the First World War.


Great literature should do some good to the reader: must quicken his perception though dull, and sharpen his discrimination though blunt, and mellow the rawness of his personal opinions.




If a line of poetry strays into my memory, my skin bristles so that the razor ceases to act.




I find Cambridge an asylum, in every sense of the word.




Ale, man, ale's the stuff to drink for fellows whom it hurts to think.




The troubles of our proud and angry dust are from eternity, and shall not fail. Bear them we can, and if we can we must. Shoulder the sky, my lad, and drink your ale.




Even when poetry has a meaning, as it usually has, it may be inadvisable to draw it out... Perfect understanding will sometimes almost extinguish pleasure.




Here dead lie we because we did not choose to live and shame the land from which we sprung. Life, to be sure, is nothing much to lose; but young men think it is, and we were young.




And malt does more than Milton can to justify God's ways to man.




Who made the world I cannot tell; 'Tis made, and here am I in hell. My hand, though now my knuckles bleed, I never soiled with such a deed.




The laws of God, the laws of man he may keep that will and can; not I: let God and man decree laws for themselves and not for me.




In every American there is an air of incorrigible innocence, which seems to conceal a diabolical cunning.




Shoulder the sky, my lad, and drink your ale.




That is the land of lost content, I see it shining plain, the happy highways where I went and cannot come again.




The house of delusions is cheap to build but drafty to live in.




Nature, not content with denying him the ability to think, has endowed him with the ability to write.




Malt does more than Milton can to justify God's ways to man.




Experience has taught me, when I am shaving of a morning, to keep watch over my thoughts, because, if a line of poetry strays into my memory, my skin bristles so that the razor ceases to act.




The average man, if he meddles with criticism at all, is a conservative critic.



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