Tuesday, 26 March 2019

The Lads in their Hundreds

It's A.E.Housman's birthday. He would have been 160.

His poetry isn't particularly popular today. His short lyrics, his rhyme and metre hark back to a much earlier age and can sound dated. But the sentiments are every bit as relevant, eternal in their scope and beautifully, eternally preserved in Housman's poetry.

He was always a favourite of composers, never more so than in the case of George Butterworth (killed on the Somme in 1916). But the lads in their hundreds aren't going off to fight in the First World War. Their conflict is earlier, the Boer Wars in South Africa.

But the sentiments are the same. No wonder the pocket edition of 'A Shropshire Lad' was long the most-carried books by troops in the First War trenches.

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