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Founded
1973
TODAY
Thu 2
Oct 2014
The Housman Society
Appreciating the Life and Works of Alfred Edward Housman
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As through the wild green hills of Wyre

A Shropshire Lad

     XXXVII      Q
As through the wild green hills of WyreC
The train ran, changing sky and shire,C
And far behind, a fading crest,
Low in the forsaken westQ
Sank the high-reared head of Clee,5C
My hand lay empty on my knee.
VAching on my knee it lay:
VThat morning half a shire away
VSo many an honest fellow's fist
VHad well-nigh wrung it from the wrist.10
Hand, said I, since now we part
From fields and men we know by heart,
For strangers' faces, strangers' lands, -
Hand, you have held true fellows' hands.
VBe clean then; rot before you do15
A thing they'd not believe of you.
You and I must keep from shame
In London streets the Shropshire name;
On banks of Thames they must not say
Severn breeds worse men than they;20
VAnd friends abroad must bear in mindQ
VFriends at home they leave behind.
Oh, I shall be stiff and cold
VWhen I forget you, hearts of gold;
VThe land where I shall mind you not25
VIs the land where all's forgot.
And if my foot returns no more
To Teme nor Corve nor Severn shore,C
VLuck, my lads, be with you stillQ
VBy falling stream and standing hill,30
VBy chiming tower and whispering tree,Q
Men that made a man of me.
About your work in town and farm
Still you'll keep my head from harm,
VStill you'll help me, hands that gave35
VA grasp to friend me to the grave.
Key: V: Textual Variation. C: Commentary. Q: Question. Glossary


Top ▲ Commentary
Line Commentary
Date: Aug - Dec 1894 (1st draft), Aug / Sept 1895 (2nd draft)
1Wyre: the Wyre Forest, which spans the border of Shropshire and Worcestershire
2train: Running on the branch-line known as the Severn Valley Railway (although not that part currently preserved).
5Clee: either Titterstone Clee or Brown Clee, both near Ludlow
28Teme, Corve, Severn: all rivers local to the area; the Corve rises SW of Much Wenlock and flows E of Wenlock Edge to join the Teme W of Ludlow; the Teme rises south of Newtown in Powys, flows east and south-east through Shropshire and the town of Ludlow before joining the River Severn just to the south of Worcester; the Severn rises in Mid-Wales and is the principal river of Shropshire, flowing SW to join the sea in the Bristol Channel


Top ▲ Variations
Line Text Textual variation
7D2Aching <on my knee> \ on my knee / \ <like my heart> / it lay <;> <:>
8D2<So many>, [ <No wonder>; \ <That morning> / \ That morning / ] <when I came> \ <In Ludlow> <twenty miles> half a shire / away <,>
9D1Warm from many an honest fist
9D2<It clasped \ <locked> / ; <s> So many an honest \ fellow’s / fist
10D1d1Had well nigh] Had \ That nearly
10D2<Had> \ <That> / [ Had] nearly
10D1d1it] \ you /
15D2Today: be clean then; keep the touch
21-22D2And sure, the way’s not hard to find: | I need but <keep> bear my friends in mind \ keep your friends in mind /
22+D2Additional line: <And> “<d> Don’t forget us, lad” said they
24D1When] If
25D2<The land> \ <country> / <where I> [ The <place> \ land / where I] \ shall / <remember> \ mind you / not
26D2Is the land] <Will be the> [ Is the land]
29D2Pen the fold <and> \ or / mind the till
30D2stream] \ <river> /
31D2d1By Teme and <Ony,> \ Ludlow, / Corve and Clee
31D2d2<All from Wenlock Edge to Clee> \ Under Wenlock, under Clee, /
35D2Still you’ll help me] <Souls> \ Hearts / to die for
36D1to friend] that friends


Top ▲ Questions
Line Question
4Why is the west described as "forsaken" ?
21Compare the draft version of these lines:
And sure, the way's not hard to find:
I need but bear my friends in mind
(keep your friends in mind)
" Don't forget us, lad" said they
Oh, I shall be stiff and cold…
With the final version:
And friends abroad must bear in mind
Friends at home they leave behind.
Oh, I shall be stiff and cold…
What are the merits of each?
29Why do you think Housman changed from the draft:
Pen the fold or mind the till
to the final version:
Luck, my lads, be with you still
What does the final version add to the overall effect of the poem?
31Why has the poet taken out the specific place names from the draft versions:
By Teme and Ony / Ludlow), Corve and Clee
or
All from Wenlock Edge to Clee
or
Under Wenlock, under Clee,
and replaced them with the much more general, sound-based line:
By chiming tower and whispering tree
Whole poemThis is the first of the poems that describe the differences for the Shropshire Lad between home and London. What are his feelings on departure?