Alfred Edward (A.E.) Housman was a noted classical scholar and a poet. To the wider public he is best known for his poem “A Shropshire Lad” (1896), while to his fellow classicists it is his critical editing of Manilius that has earned him enduring fame.
Housman was born on March 26, 1859 in Fockbury, Worcestershire, England, the eldest of seven children. A gifted student Housman won a scholarship to Oxford where he performed well, but failed to gain a degree, due to his neglect, for various reasons, of subjects that did not pique his interest (philosophy, and ancient history). Frustrated he gained at job as a patent clerk, but continued his research in the classical studies, publishing a variety of well regarded papers. After a decade his reputation was such that he was able to obtain a position at University College London (1992). In 1911 he took the Kennedy Professorship of Latin at Trinity College, Cambridge, where he remained for the rest of his life.
A. E. Housman Quotes
The troubles of our proud and angry dust are from eternity, and shall not fail. Bear them we can, and if we can we must. Shoulder the sky, my lad, and drink your ale.
Shoulder the sky, my lad, and drink your ale.
Ale, man, ale’s the stuff to drink for fellows whom it hurts to think.
And malt does more than Milton can to justify God’s ways to man.
Even when poetry has a meaning, as it usually has, it may be inadvisable to draw it out… Perfect understanding will sometimes almost extinguish pleasure.
Great literature should do some good to the reader: must quicken his perception though dull, and sharpen his discrimination though blunt, and mellow the rawness of his personal opinions.
I could no more define poetry than a terrier can define a rat.
If a line of poetry strays into my memory, my skin bristles so that the razor ceases to act.
The house of delusions is cheap to build but drafty to live in.
I find Cambridge an asylum, in every sense of the word.
Experience has taught me, when I am shaving of a morning, to keep watch over my thoughts, because, if a line of poetry strays into my memory, my skin bristles so that the razor ceases to act.
Nature, not content with denying him the ability to think, has endowed him with the ability to write.
The laws of God, the laws of man he may keep that will and can; not I: let God and man decree laws for themselves and not for me.
Malt does more than Milton can to justify God’s ways to man.
In every American there is an air of incorrigible innocence, which seems to conceal a diabolical cunning.
That is the land of lost content, I see it shining plain, the happy highways where I went and cannot come again.
Here dead lie we because we did not choose to live and shame the land from which we sprung. Life, to be sure, is nothing much to lose; but young men think it is, and we were young.
The average man, if he meddles with criticism at all, is a conservative critic.
Who made the world I cannot tell; ‘Tis made, and here am I in hell. My hand, though now my knuckles bleed, I never soiled with such a deed.