These are the 4 poems I have to compare with each other.
THESE ARE THE FOUR HOUSMAN POEMS WE WILL BE STUDYING AFTER WE COMPLETE OUR DISCUSSION OF
HOUSMAN POEMS AND TIMELINE
From “A Shropshire Lad”:
Shot? so quick, so clean an ending?
Oh that was right, lad, that was brave:
Yours was not an ill for mending,
‘Twas best to take it to the grave.
Oh you had forethought, you could reason,
And saw your road and where it led,
And early wise and brave in season
Put the pistol to your head.
Oh soon, and better so than later
After long disgrace and scorn,
You shot dead the household traitor,
The soul that should not have been born.
Right you guessed the rising morrow
And scorned to tread the mire you must:
Dust’s your wages, son of sorrow,
But men may come to worse than dust.
Souls undone, undoing others, –
Long time since the tale began.
You would not live to wrong your brothers:
Oh lad, you died as fits a man.
Now to your grave shall friend and stranger
With ruth and some with envy come:
Undishonored, clear of danger,
Clean of guilt, pass hence and home.
Turn safe to rest, no dreams, no waking;
And here, man, here’s the wreath I’ve made:
‘Tis not a gift that’s worth the taking,
But wear it and it will not fade.
If it chance your eye offend you,
Pluck it out, lad, and be sound:
‘Twill hurt, but here are salves to friend you,
And many a balsam grows on ground.
And if your hand or foot offend you,
Cut it off, lad, and be whole;
But play the man, stand up and end you,
When your sickness is your soul.
From “Last Poems”:
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;
And if my ways are not as theirs
Let them mind their own affairs.
Their deeds I judge and much condemn,
Yet when did I make laws for them?
Please yourselves, say I, and they
Need only look the other way.
But no, they will not; they must still
Wrest their neighbor to their will,
And make me dance as they desire
With jail and gallows and hell-fire.
And how am I to face the odds
Of man’s bedevilment and God’s?
I, a stranger and afraid
In a world I never made.
They will be master, right or wrong;
Though both are foolish, both are strong.
And since, my soul, we cannot fly
To Saturn nor to Mercury,
Keep we must, if keep we can,
These foreign laws of God and man.
From “Additional Poems”:
Oh who is that young sinner with the handcuffs on his wrists?
And what has he been after that they groan and shake their fists?
And wherefore is he wearing such a conscience-stricken air?
Oh they’re taking him to prison for the color of his hair.
‘Tis a shame to human nature, such a head of hair as his;
In the good old time ’twas hanging for the colour that it is;
Though hanging isn’t bad enough and flaying would be fair
For the nameless and abominable colour of his hair.
Oh a deal of pains he’s taken and a pretty price he’s paid
To hide his poll or dye it of a mentionable shade;
But they’ve pulled the beggar’s hat off the the world to see and stare,
And they’re taking him to justice for the colour of his hair.
Now ’tis oakum for his fingers and the treadmill for his feet,
And the quarry-gang on Portland in the cold and in the heat,
And between his spells of labour in the time he has to spare
He can curse the God that made him for the colour of his hair.
TIMELINE: Oscar Wilde and A.E. Housman
1854 Wilde born in Dublin.
1859 Housman born in Bromsgrove, UK (near Birmingham).
1885 The Criminal Law Amendment Act outlaws homosexual acts not amounting to buggery, which was covered by a separate statute.
1890 Wilde writes THE PICTURE OF DORIAN GRAY.
1895 Wilde writes THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING EARNEST.
1895 Wilde arrested under the Criminal Law Amendment Act.
1895-1897 Wilde jailed at hard labor for sodomy and gross indecency. He must walk a treadmill and pick oakum (the painful drudgery of using your fingers to separate the fibers in scraps of old navy ropes). He collapses from illness and hunger and suffers a head injury that never heals. During his transfer from one prison to another, the crowd on the railway platform spits on him. The day he is released, he leaves England forever.
1896 Housman self-publishes A SHROPSHIRE LAD. The book NEVER goes out of print.
1900 Wilde dies in exile in Paris.
1901 Queen Victoria dies. The Victorian Era (1837-1901) ends, and the Edwardian Era (1901-1910) begins.
1922 Housman publishes LAST POEMS.
1936 Housman dies in Cambridge, UK.
1936 Housman’s posthumous poems appear, published by Housman’s brother.
1967 Consensual sex acts between adults males legalized in England and Wales.
2017 Wilde is one of 50,000 men pardoned for homosexual acts under the “Alan Turing Law”.C
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