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A Shropshire Lad (Penguin Classics: Poetry First Editions) Paperback – July 29, 1999

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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

The great Housman's most famous collection here gets the facsimile treatment. The slim volume contains the complete text plus a scholarly introduction and a bibliography of related works. Though pricey, this is a gorgeous little edition.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


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. --D.A.W., AudioFile Magazine --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.

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Product Details

  • Series: Penguin Classics: Poetry First Editions
  • Paperback: 96 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd; New edition edition (July 29, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140437185
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140437188
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.3 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (46 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #9,815,179 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

23 of 24 people found the following review helpful By darragh o'donoghue on October 16, 2001
Format: Paperback
the title of 'A Shropshire Lad' indicates both rural specificity and human universality, and it is in the gap between the two that the poems' tension and tragedy lie. they evoke a timeless pastoral world, of streams, plains and roses; of ploughing, carousing and love-making; of villages, churches and football; all belonging to the unchanging cycle of the seasons. In this context man as a type, as a member of a community, is eternal also, not least in the folk idiom in which Housman's classical clarity is decaptively cloaked.
as an individual, however, the 'lad' is insubstantial, doomed to leave or die as rural life continues unchanging without him. Many of the poems are narrated by exiles or ghosts, crushed to find the old routine the same as if they had never existed - the phantom of 'Is my team ploughing?' discovers even his grieving sweetheart now warm in his interlocutor's bed; he of 'Bredon Hill' plans his wedding, only to attend his own funeral.
Housman uses a direct and simple vocabulary and metre with devastating resonances, the very music of the poetry at once rooted in the eternal communal land and yet indicative of sadness and loss. Written in 1896, the irony of death and change in the never-ending countryside was doubled by the reality that the countryside was changing, that the centuries-old lifestyles were being encroached on by industry and modernity - what seemed to be inviolable itself becomes obsolete. in hindsight, a third, poignant irony is added - within 20 years of publication, these lads would be sent to the slaughter in World War One, as previsioned in 'On the idle hill of summer'. One of Housman's greatest admirers, the composer George Butterworth, who wrote two song-cycles based on these beautiful poems, would be one such victim.
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 3, 2000
Format: Paperback
Housman is one of those very popular poets that are looked down by your English professor as being low brow and unfit for the elect. If you're the type who claims to belong to these elite, good luck for your choice of a sour life, you should never be caught with this book.
Everybody else, dip in, the water is just fine.
In Housman's poetry, there is sense, and ideas you can understand on first reading. Moreover, there are rare qualities you seldom see nowadays - rhyme, rhythm, correct grammar, proper punctuation, and words spelled so you can confirm from any English dictionary that they were used right.
Be warned however that Housman's themes are repetitious (probably explains why he never wrote much poetry - perhaps he realized he is beginning to sound like a broken record even for the little poetry he was able to write), mostly about the transitoriness of youth and the tender sadness of death. Reading him too much too often is like listening to the greatest hits collection of a minor singer - after the third song, you get tired. But you did enjoy the first two.
When I first bought this book in April 2000, the list price was only $1.00 and Amazon's price was 80c. It was good value then even for someone living in Asia. Now that there's a special surcharge, I guess it's just good value if shipping cost is minimized.
For your money, however, try to find the old edition with line drawings. That was the first time I read Housman, and the line drawings realy enhanced the haunting loneliness of the sad poems.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By L. E. Cantrell VINE VOICE on September 17, 2007
Format: Paperback
Recently, I was appalled to discover that the top one hundred hits under the heading "A. E. Housman" do not disclose a single volume of his collected poetry to be in print, save for a ridiculously overpriced and bloated scholarly edition of interest only to plodding, dry-as-dust, doctoral candidates. This is a disgraceful state for one of the great poets of the turn of the Twentieth Century, one who in his miniaturist way was a peer of Elliott and Pound.

Alfred Edward Housman was born in 1859. At Oxford, he was universally regarded as a high-flyer, an odds-on favorite to win a "First in Greats." All went well until his final term in 1881, when he crashed and burned during a disastrous final examination. Not only did he fail to get his "First," he managed to get his degree only after months of delay, and that was a lowly, utterly undistinguished "pass".

Housman was, to say the least, not loquacious about his life. What seems to have happened was that he fell hopelessly, eternally, absurdly, romantically in love with one of his roommates, a stolidly athletic young man named Moses Jackson. Jackson, alas for Housman's hopes, proved to be inconveniently and irredeemably straight. Not long before the final examinations, Housman apparently declared his passion for Jackson, who seems politely, even kindly to have said something on the order of "No, thanks." In cricket terms, Housman was "hit for six" and he never recovered to the day he died.

Housman's expectations of an academic career went down in flames along with his "First." He slunk away from Oxford to work in the Patent Office, where--surprise, surprise--Jackson was also working, although the latter drew a higher salary because of his better degree.
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