A. E. Housman

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Housman, A. E.

(Alfred Edward Housman) (hous`mən), 1859–1936, English poet and scholar, whose verse exerted a strong influence on later poets. He left Oxford without a degree because he had failed his final examinations. Ever afterward he was a coldly reserved, shy, and aloof man, a recluse seemingly without emotional life, but in truth a deeply closeted homosexual who may never have acted on his feelings. After serving for 10 years in the civil service, he became in 1892 a professor of Latin at University College, London, and in 1911 professor of Latin at Cambridge and fellow of Trinity College. Housman proved to be one of the finest classical scholars of his time, and a caustic critic of other scholars. Specializing in textual criticism, he produced a monumental edition of ManiliusManilius, Marcus
, fl. A.D. 10, Roman poet. Of his didactic poem on astrology, the Astronomica, five books remain. These may or may not have constituted the whole work.
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 (5 vol., 1903–30), edited JuvenalJuvenal
(Decimus Junius Juvenalis) , fl. 1st to 2d cent. A.D., Roman satirical poet. His verse established a model for the satire of indignation, in contrast to the less harsh satire of ridicule of Horace.
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 (1905) and LucanLucan
(Marcus Annaeus Lucanus) , A.D. 39–A.D. 65, Latin poet, b. Córdoba, Spain, nephew of the philosopher Seneca. At first in Nero's favor, he was later forced to kill himself when his part in a plot against the emperor was discovered.
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 (1926), and wrote valuable classical studies. It is, however, as a poet that he is best known, although only two small volumes appeared during his lifetime, A Shropshire Lad (1896) and Last Poems (1922). His verse is noted for its economy of words and directness of statement, pictures of the English countryside, and the fusion of humor and pathos, and is widely thought of as quintessentially English. The passing of youth and the inevitability of death are his most characteristic themes. His best-known poems include "When I Was One-and-twenty," "With Rue My Heart Is Laden," "To an Athlete Dying Young," and "Far in a Western Brookland." His essay The Name and Nature of Poetry (1933) was originally given as a lecture at Cambridge.


See his complete poems (ed. by T. B. Haber, with an introduction by B. Davenport, 1959); biography by G. Richards (1942, repr. 1973), biography and critical study by P. Parker (2017); studies by T. B. Haber (1967), A. S. Sydenham (1936, repr. 1973), and B. J. Leggett (1978).

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References in periodicals archive ?
Then I heard the light with his setting of Into my heart an air that kills, written for a celebration in Ludlow of AE Housman's poem-cycle A Shropshire Lad, and I've since become an enthusiast.
It is one of the Midlands' finest beauty spots, where the sound of bells ringing was once described as "a happy noise to hear" by Worcestershire poet AE Housman.
And we were adding to it, inevitably, tracking down the Nailers Arms in Bournheath, a pretty little place outside Bromsgrove whose main claim to the fame is being the birthplace of AE Housman. Presumably, he decided at some point in his life that Shropshire was the superior county.
AE Housman (in A Shropshire Lad) tells us that Clun was one of the 'four quietest places under the sun'.
Brace's literary favourites were wideranging from the poems of Goethe to the humour of PG Wodehouse and also included the moving images of AE Housman's A Shropshire Lad and the marvellous escapades found in Richmal Crompton's Just William books, which no doubt reminded Brace of roaming the Usk Valley with his schoolfriends.
At this season of the year we recall the verses of AE Housman when he told of summertime on Bredon where we 'hear the larks so high about us in the sky'.
She points out that Bromsgrove School has a lot to promote, partly as the town's largest employer with over 400 staff and also as it boasts a number of illustrious old boys, including CBI director general Digby Jones and the 'Shropshire Lad' poet, AE Housman.
Since 1983, the firm has published more than 14 books and pamphlets, ranging from a bicentennial reprint of Tom Paine's short essay, The Last Crisis, to a fully illustrated and bound copy of The Shropshire Lad by AE Housman.
Only recently turned 22, maverick composer, singer-songwriter, pianist and guitarist Fyfe Hutchins could yet prove one of the most interesting artistic talents to come out of Bromsgrove since AE Housman.
Julie Kirkbride, Tory MP for Bromsgrove, picked several lines from AE Housman's poem A Shropshire Lad and Lynne Jones quotes Arthur Koestler: "We would not have been supplied with necks if we had not been intended to stick them out occasionally."