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Mon 28th
May 2018
The Housman Society
Appreciating the Life and Works of Alfred Edward Housman

Far in a western brookland

A Shropshire Lad

VFar in a western brooklandCQ
VThat bred me long ago
The poplars stand and tremble
VBy pools I used to know.
VThere, in the windless night-time,5
VThe wanderer, marvelling why,Q
VHalts on the bridge to hearken
How soft the poplars sigh.
VHe hears: no more rememberedQ
VIn fields where I was known,10
VHere I lie down in LondonQ
VAnd turn to rest alone.Q
VThere, by the starlit fences,
VThe wanderer halts and hears,
VMy soul that lingers sighing15Q
VAbout the glimmering weirs.
Key: V: Textual Variation. C: Commentary. Q: Question. Glossary

ASL LII "Far in a western brookland"

Top ▲ Glossary
Line  WordGlossary
1brooklandAn area of marshy water-meadow.
3poplarsA slender quick-growing tree of the willow family.
16weirsA dam built across a river to regulate the flow of water, divert it, or change its level.

Top ▲ Commentary
Line Commentary
Date: July 1891 - 1891/2 (1st draft), 1891/2 (2nd draft)
1The influence of the West upon Housman's poetic vision can be seen in the replacement of "pastoral", "distant" and "cloven" in the drafts with "western" in the final version.
1brookland: Jeremy Bourne in "The Westerly Wanderer" (1996) describes such an area behind Housman's childhood home at Perry Hall in Bromsgrove.
meterFour line stanzas of alternating seven and six syllable lines; even numbered lines rhyme.

Top ▲ Variations
Line Text Textual variation
1D1<Far in a> \ <Deep> \ Far / in a / pastoral \ <distant> / \ <cloven> / woodland \ ploughland /
1D2western brookland] <cloven ploughland>
2D1bred me years] bred \ <loved> / me \ [?me] / <years> \ long /
4D2pools] \ <streams> /
5D1in the windless night-time,] <in the windless midnight,> \ when the night is windless, / in the windless <midnight> \ night-time / ,
6D1<The traveller ^ passing by ^ > The wanderer ^ marvelling why ^
7D1Halts] <Leans>
9D1He hearkens; <long> \ <clean> / \ long / forgotten
9D2no more remembered] long since forgotten (All editions before Nov 1922)
10D1<In all that> [?country round]
11D1<I lay me down and slumber> to slumber \ Here I lie down in London /
11D2<I lay me down \ Here I lie down / in London>
12D1<With [?round]> [?With] round. \ With leagues around.
12D2<And turn to rest \ dreams / alone>
13D1fences] palings
14D1wanderer] traveller
15D1lingers] wanders
16D1weirs] meres

Top ▲ Questions
Line Question
1Compare the effectiveness of the different alternatives in the drafts, "pastoral", "distant" and "cloven" to the final version's "western".
6At what is the wanderer "marvelling"? How do you explain the phenomenon?
9Consider the difference between "no more remembered" of the final version and "long since forgotten" from the draft.
11What does this poem add to the understanding of the separation in London of the narrator from his home?
12Explore the difference between "turn to dreams alone" in the draft and "turn to rest alone" in the final version.
15Does this line help to explain the phenomenon at l.6?