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

I hoed and trenched and weeded

A Shropshire Lad

     LXIII   C  
I hoed and trenched and weeded,Q
And took the flowers to fair:
I brought them home unheeded;
The hue was not the wear.
So up and down I sow them5
For lads like me to find,
When I shall lie below them,Q
A dead man out of mind.
Some seed the birds devour,C
And some the season mars,10
But here and there will flower,
The solitary stars,Q
And fields will yearly bear them
As light-leaved spring comes on,Q
And luckless lads will wear them15Q
When I am dead and gone.
Key: V: Textual Variation. C: Commentary. Q: Question. Glossary

ASL LXIII "I hoed and trenched and weeded"

Top ▲ Glossary
Line  WordGlossary
1hoedDug or weeded using a hoe
(a garden implement used for weeding or turning over soil. A long pole with a small flat metal blade set into one end at a right angle to the pole.)
1trenchedCleared trenches and ditches to allow drainage

Top ▲ Commentary
Line Commentary
Date: Not known
In his lecture, "The Name and Nature of Poetry" (1933), AEH described the composition of the poem thus, " Two of the stanzas, I do not say which, came into my head, just as they are printed, while I was crossing the corner of Hampstead Heath…A third stanza came with a little coaxing after tea. One more was needed, but it did not come: I had to turn to and compose it myself, and that was a laborious business. I wrote it thirteen times, and it was more than a twelvemonth before I got it right" (NNP, p.53)
9cf Matthew: 13: 4 "some seeds fell by the wayside, and the birds came and devoured them up
meterFour line stanzas, alternating seven and six syllables, rhymed alternately.

Top ▲ Questions
Line Question
1If the poem is taken to be an extended metaphor for the writing of poetry, what does each of these verbs represent in that process? Considering Housman's comment about the composition of this poem, cited in the commentary, is there some irony here?
7Of which other lines from the collection does this line remind you?
12Comment on the use of alliteration in this poem.
14What do you think "light-leaved" means?
15Why is it "luckless" lads who will wear the flowers?