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

Into my heart on air that kills

A Shropshire Lad

Into my heart an air that killsQ
From yon far country blows:
VWhat are those blue remembered hills,Q
VWhat spires, what farms are those?Q
That is the land of lost content,5
I see it shining plain,
VThe happy highways where I went
And cannot come again.Q
Key: V: Textual Variation. C: Commentary. Q: Question. Glossary

ASL XL "Into my heart an air that kills"

Top ▲ Glossary
Line  WordGlossary
2yonShort for yonder, ie that or those over there (regional)

Top ▲ Commentary
Line Commentary
Date: 1886
meterFour line stanzas of alternating eight and six syllables, (iambic quatrameter / trimeter) rhymed alternately

Top ▲ Variations
Line Text Textual variation
3blue remembered] \ <faint bewildered> dissolving /
4spires] <towns> \ <fields> / \ <farms> / \ <towns> /
farms] <shires> \ <paths> /
7highways] <footpaths> \ <wayside> /

Top ▲ Questions
Line Question
1Explore the paradox of "an air that kills". Might also there be a suggestion of the secondary meaning of the word "air", ie "a melody or tune, especially a light or cheerful one", making this once again a comment on poetry?
3"blue remembered hills" is one of the most famous lines from Housman; in what ways is it superior to the draft versions, "faint bewildering hills" or "dissolving hills"?
4Why are "spires" and "farms" chosen from the other types of places listed in the drafts: "towns", "fields" and "paths"?
8Why do you think this poem has achieved such popularity? What is its mood?