A Shropshire Lad (Dover Thrift Editions) Paperback – 2 Jan 2000
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Winner of AudioFile Earphones Award Housman is a high-water mark of British lyric poetry, and this fine production captures perfectly his strong, melodic beat and decisive rhyme, and his wonderful way with words. Samuel West's cultivated Midlands accent may not be specifically Shropshire, but his voice and reading are true to Housman who was not, after all, some rough Shropshire lad himself, but an Oxford don. His 'Loveliest of Trees, the Cherry Now' and 'To an Athlete Dying Young' are beautifully rendered here. West, you feel, reads poetry as it should be read confidently, with ease and conviction, as if all the world spoke in meter and rhyme. --AudioFile
Published in 1896, Housman's theme of early death became particularly poignant during the Great War. His boy soldiers follow the bugle's call to where the 'dropping dead are thick', and where one suffering 'not an ill for mending' shoots himself. Housman's rural 'land of lost content' with its ancient history, larks and daffodils and its (usually thwarted) young loves of lads and lasses echoes in nostalgic listeners' hearts. Samuel Wests's brogue brings out the Shropshire Lad's touching simplicity, and Housman's haunting rhythms and rhymes. --The Oldie
Housman is a high-water mark of British lyric poetry, and this fine production captures perfectly his strong, melodic beat and decisive rhyme, and his wonderful way with words. Samuel West's cultivated Midlands accent may not be specifically Shropshire, but his voice and reading are true to Housman who was not, after all, some rough Shropshire lad himself but an Oxford don. His Loveliest of Trees, the Cherry Now and To an Athlete Dying Young are beautifully rendered here. West, you feel, reads poetry as it should be read confidently, with ease and conviction, as if all the world spoke in meter and rhyme. --AudioFile --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
About the Author
Housman was a classical scholar and poet. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.See all Product description
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On the poems:
You will either love them or hate them; personally I love tham but I can see why others wouldn't. Housman was a brilliant classical scholar, but for his "concept album" of verse, he chose the swinging rythyms and simple rhymes of folk songs and ballads, using them with a deceptive skill to create an extraordinary mood, elegaic, nostalgic and ferociously romantic. Despite his attempt to create an appearance of naive innocence, this book is the product of an exceptionally sophisticated mind.
Housman suffered a lifelong tragedy of unrequited love for his room-mate at college; and in his tales of suntanned country lads coming to bad ends we can see the doom-laden view of love, life and the world which the social circumstances of his time forced him into - also that there is a level of false consciousness here which we see later in E. M. Forster.
Many poets of the time reverted, after the elaborations of Victorian language, to a deliberate folky simplification. To modern ears this is both seductive and, at another level, slightly silly. No doubt at the time it was fresh and daring. It means Housman's couplets stick in the mind, and are often quoted. What the poet didn't know when he wrote that the real tradegy and doom of the First World War hung over his golden lads, just a few years in the future.
On the Dover Thrift edition:
This is a budget edition and it really shows. Cheap fuzzy paper, not especially clear print; no editorial notes. If you love the poems look for one of the very nice vintage editions. Students will want something with some notes.
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