This cloth-bound poetry book called “A Shropshire Lad” by A E Housman was smaller than expected. But there are enough poems to last you days and charm you with their lyrical allure.
The dominant theme is war in the first few pages. But the poems also dwell into other universal themes like love, loneliness & the perils of youth. It’s the simplicity of language that adds a raw honesty to all that is being said by the poet. The book was published in 1896 and yet, the thoughts of the writer is clear and concise and some of the ideas still very relevant and relatable.
Look at these lines from one of the poem that brought a smile to my face –
Some lads there are, 'tis shame to say, That only court to thieve, And once they bear the bloom away 'Tis little enough they leave. Then keep your heart for men like me And safe from trustless chaps. My love is true and all for you. "Perhaps, young man, perhaps."
This poem talks of a lad falling for a woman and how he tries to woo her in vain. Housman talks of superficial passion and how some men lure women to just exploit them and disappear when they’ve had their fun. It’s an age old cautionary tale recited in a light, almost letter-like manner.
In Shropshire Lad, you find a vivid voice that echoes familiar sentiments,as if someone is singing you a song. It’s the kind of poetry you can read before going to bed and not feel burdened by the weight of its words.