WEFOUNDA. E. Housman: A Collection of Critical Essays (20th Century Views)


Housman’s career at Bromsgrove School ended in triumph as he won the Lord Lyttelton prize for Latin verse, the honorarium for Greek verse, and the Senior Wattell prize, along with a generous scholarship to St. John’s College, Oxford. At least some of Housman’s success at this time can be attributed to Herbert Millington, who became headmaster at Bromsgrove School in 1873. A man of keen intellect, Millington presented a formidable figure to the students, and Housman felt some hero-worship for him, referring to him much later as a good teacher for a clever boy. Millington was the most important role model of Housman’s youth.

The first stanza simply is advice that is given to the speaker when he was 21.  The advice was that he could give away his many and material possessions, but not his heart or his emotions.  Those...

In this line (the last line of the poem) the word "whose" means "belonging to who."  In other words, the speaker is telling the listener not to wonder which dead man's sweetheart he (the speaker)...

Housman’s career at Bromsgrove School ended in triumph as he won the Lord Lyttelton prize for Latin verse, the honorarium for Greek verse, and the Senior Wattell prize, along with a generous scholarship to St. John’s College, Oxford. At least some of Housman’s success at this time can be attributed to Herbert Millington, who became headmaster at Bromsgrove School in 1873. A man of keen intellect, Millington presented a formidable figure to the students, and Housman felt some hero-worship for him, referring to him much later as a good teacher for a clever boy. Millington was the most important role model of Housman’s youth.

The first stanza simply is advice that is given to the speaker when he was 21.  The advice was that he could give away his many and material possessions, but not his heart or his emotions.  Those...

In this line (the last line of the poem) the word "whose" means "belonging to who."  In other words, the speaker is telling the listener not to wonder which dead man's sweetheart he (the speaker)...

A. E. Housman's lyric, "When I was one-and-twenty," consists of two rimed stanzas of eight lines each. The rime scheme is ABCBCDAD in the first stanza and ABCBADAD in the second stanza.

( Please note: The incorrect spelling, "rhyme," was erroneously introduced into English by Dr. Samuel Johnson. For my explanation for using only the correct form, please see " Rime vs Rhyme: An Unfortunate Error .")

This poem appears #XIII in Housman's collection titled A Shropshire Lad , along with "To an athlete dying young," which offers a view point regarding death.

Alfred Edward Housman, the eldest son of a Bromsgrove solicitor, was born in 1859. He attended Bromsgrove School as a dayboy, but soon after he started there his mother fell ill and his father sank into helpless despondency; as the eldest child, Housman was closest to his mother and spent many hours with her in her final illness. As the school holidays approached it was decided that he should go away for a while to visit family friends; he was with them when he heard the news of his mother’s death. He later said that this bereavement at the age of twelve, which shadowed his whole life, cost him his belief in any kind of religious faith.

In 1877 he went to St John’s College, Oxford, having won a scholarship to read Classics. Here he formed a passionate attachment to Moses Jackson, an outstanding student of science and a natural athlete; Jackson had good looks and, in the phrase of the time, manly bearing. Housman lived in a time when he could not reveal his deepest feelings for Jackson, and he may even not have admitted them to himself. Many years later, those suppressed feelings found expression at last in his verse.

At the end of his second year, Housman gained a First in Moderations and was expected to perform brilliantly in his final examination, Greats. Perhaps distracted by inner turmoil, or because he had followed his own academic interests and avoided the reading required by the syllabus, he failed outright. He left Oxford without a degree.

Housman’s career at Bromsgrove School ended in triumph as he won the Lord Lyttelton prize for Latin verse, the honorarium for Greek verse, and the Senior Wattell prize, along with a generous scholarship to St. John’s College, Oxford. At least some of Housman’s success at this time can be attributed to Herbert Millington, who became headmaster at Bromsgrove School in 1873. A man of keen intellect, Millington presented a formidable figure to the students, and Housman felt some hero-worship for him, referring to him much later as a good teacher for a clever boy. Millington was the most important role model of Housman’s youth.

The first stanza simply is advice that is given to the speaker when he was 21.  The advice was that he could give away his many and material possessions, but not his heart or his emotions.  Those...

In this line (the last line of the poem) the word "whose" means "belonging to who."  In other words, the speaker is telling the listener not to wonder which dead man's sweetheart he (the speaker)...

A. E. Housman's lyric, "When I was one-and-twenty," consists of two rimed stanzas of eight lines each. The rime scheme is ABCBCDAD in the first stanza and ABCBADAD in the second stanza.

( Please note: The incorrect spelling, "rhyme," was erroneously introduced into English by Dr. Samuel Johnson. For my explanation for using only the correct form, please see " Rime vs Rhyme: An Unfortunate Error .")

This poem appears #XIII in Housman's collection titled A Shropshire Lad , along with "To an athlete dying young," which offers a view point regarding death.


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