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On Wenlock Edge The Wood's In Trouble -- A E Housman

Guest poem submitted by Vikram Doctor:
(Poem #703) On Wenlock Edge The Wood's In Trouble
 On Wenlock Edge the wood's in trouble;
 His forest fleece the Wrekin heaves;
 The gale, it plies the saplings double,
 And thick on Severn snow the leaves.

 'Twould blow like this through holt and hanger
 When Uricon the city stood;
 'Tis the old wind in the old anger,
 But then it threshed another wood.

 Then, 'twas before my time, the Roman
 At yonder heaving hill would stare;
 The blood that warms an English yeoman,
 The thoughts that hurt him, they were there.

 There, like the wind through woods in riot,
 Through him the gale of life blew high;
 The tree of man was never quiet:
 Then 'twas the Roman, now 'tis I.

 The gale, it plies the saplings double,
 It blows so hard, 'twill soon be gone:
 Today the Roman and his trouble
 Are ashes under Uricon.
-- A E Housman
Poem XXXI from "A Shropshire Lad", 1896.

While I was typing out the Masefield I suddenly thought of this, realising
the similarity in what the poet is doing in both. It seems a continuous
tradition in English poetry, the contemplation of the ruins of Roman Britain
to make one think of the past - a tradition that goes all the way back to
that fragment of Anglo-Saxon verse I think Thomas posted on the list
sometime back.

Vikram.

PS. This poem, by the way, has also given the title to a very fine book:
Patrick White's The Tree Of Man, the Australian epic which was one of the
books mentioned in his Nobel Prize citation.

PPS. Uricon was the Roman city also known as Virconium.

[Minstrels Links]

The Masefield referred to is yesterday's poem, "Night is on the Downland":
poem #702

We've posted lots of 'fragments of Anglo-Saxon verse' on the list; check out

[broken link] http://www.cs.rice.edu/~ssiyer/minstrels/index_poet.html
and search for 'Anon' in the list of poets.

Other Minstrels poems about ancient Rome:
Poem #296, "Footsteps", Constantine Cavafy.
Poem #489, "Horatius", Thomas Babbington Macaulay.
Poem #491, "Roman Wall Blues", W. H. Auden.
Poem #493, "A Pict Song", Rudyard Kipling.
Poem #494, "The Fall of Rome", W. H. Auden.
Poem #499, "Lay of Ancient Rome", Thomas Ybarra.
Poem #519, "The Roman Road", Thomas Hardy.

Other Minstrels poems by A. E. Housman:
Poem #33, "White in the Moon the Long Road Lies", A Shropshire Lad, XXXVI.
Poem #86, "When I Was One-and-Twenty", A Shropshire Lad, XIII.
Poem #377, "Loveliest of trees, the cherry now", A Shropshire Lad, II.
Poem #439, "Look not in my eyes, for fear", A Shropshire Lad, XV.
Poem #588, "Terence, this is stupid stuff", A Shropshire Lad,  LXII.
Poem #539, "Yonder see the morning blink", Last Poems, XI.

The first and third of these have Housman biographies attached.

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