A Shropshire Lad - RevisitedTuesday, July 01, 2014
In the late 80s I went to Shropshire on a literary tour courtesy of British Airways. For reading material I had with me A.E. Houseman’s A Shropshire Lad, a tome of Mary Webb’s poetry and D.H. Lawrence’s travel stories. I loved Houseman not knowing at the time that nearby David Austin had hybridized a lovely English Rose called A Shropshire Lad. I have had this rose now for some years. It is in deep shade so it has a reluctant and brief period when it blooms. But the flowers are lovely if sparse. It grieves me a bit to snip one as I did today, Canada Day so I could scan. There was another stalk with a bud and a flower not quite open. I did not have the heart to snip them, too. One bloom will suffice.The leaves are big and course but they will do.
A. E. Housman (1859–1936). A Shropshire Lad. 1896.
Bring, in this timeless grave to throw
No cypress, sombre on the snow;
Snap not from the bitter yew
His leaves that live December through;
Break no rosemary, bright with rime
And sparkling to the cruel crime;
Nor plod the winter land to look
For willows in the icy brook
To cast them leafless round him: bring
To spray that ever buds in spring.
But if the Christmas field has kept
Awns the last gleaner overstept,
Or shrivelled flax, whose flower is blue
A single season, never two;
Or if one haulm whose year is o’er
Shivers on the upland frore,
—Oh, bring from hill and stream and plain
Whatever will not flower again,
To give him comfort: he and those
Shall bide eternal bedfellows
Where low upon the couch he lies
Whence he never shall arise.
A Shropshire Lad
A Shropshire Lad