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

In valleys of springs of rivers

A Shropshire Lad

Clunton and ClunburyC
Clungunford and Clun,
Are the quietest places
Under the sun.
In valleys of springs and rivers,
By Ony and Teme and Clun,C
VThe country for easy livers,
The quietest under the sun,
VWe still had sorrows to lighten,5Q
VOne could not be always glad,
VAnd lads knew trouble at KnightonC
When I was a Knighton lad.
By bridges that Thames runs under,
In London, the town built ill,10Q
'Tis sure small matter for wonder
VIf sorrow is with one still.
And if as a lad grows older
The troubles he bears are more,
He carries his griefs on a shoulder15
That handselled them long before.
VWhere shall one halt to deliver
VThis luggage I'd lief set down?
Not Thames, not Teme is the river,
Nor London nor Knighton the town:20
V'Tis a long way further than Knighton,Q
A quieter place than Clun,C
Where doomsday may thunder and lighten
And little 'twill matter to one.Q
Key: V: Textual Variation. C: Commentary. Q: Question. Glossary

ASL L "Clunton and Clunbury"

Top ▲ Glossary
Line  WordGlossary
16handselledTested, tried, proved
18liefReadily or without reluctance

Top ▲ Commentary
Line Commentary
Date: May - July 1895 (1st and 2nd drafts)
Prefatory quatrainTraditional Verse; in some versions "quietest" is replaced by "drunkenest". All four places are small Shropshire villages
2Three names of local rivers: the two Onys (or Onnys), East and West, join at Eaton and flow SE to meet the Teme NW of Ludlow; the Clun rises near the Black Mountain, flows past the villages mentioned in the prefatory quatrain and joins 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 Severn just to the south of Worcester. These place names feature in the draft of l.31 of ASL XXXVII (As through the wild green hills of Wyre); although rejected there, Housman seems keen to use them somewhere in the collection!
7Knighton: a town on the River Teme, 14 miles W of Ludlow
22Clun: the village, presumably, rather than the river.
meterFour line stanzas of alternate eight and six syllables (iambic quatrameter and iambic trimeter), rhymed alternately.

Top ▲ Variations
Line Text Textual variation
3D1<In hamlets of old long livers>, \ The country <of> \ for / quiet livers
3D2easy] <quiet>
5D1<The heart had> \ <There still were> / \ We still had / troubles to lighten
5D2<We still had sorrows \ <trouble> <burdens> / to lighten Still we had loads to lighten
6D2be always] \ <for ever> /
7D1<And> <lads> Lads <could be> \ <were> / \ <would be> / <sorry> \ <had sorrows> knew sorrow / at Knighton <,>
7D2<Lads> \ And lads / knew trouble \ <sorrows> / at Knighton
12D1sorrow] trouble
with one} <on me>
17D2<Where shall the porter \ <can one halt> <and>/ \ to / deliver Where <can> \ does / one halt to deliver
18D2<The luggage that wearies \ <loads> / him |<one> me / down?> <The> This luggage I’d life set down?
21D2<Further> [’Tis] further than Teme or \ <and> / Knighton,> \ ’Tis a long way further than Knighton, / <A long way \ <’Tis long leagues> further than Knighton

Top ▲ Questions
Line Question
5Consider the progression of expression in the drafts for the first part of the line: "The heart had" becomes "There still were" and then "We still had". How does the idea of the line change with each amendment?
5Compare the different words used in the drafts: "troubles", "burdens" and "loads", before "sorrows" is used in the final version. Why do you think was the final choice made?
10Why is London described as "the town built ill"?
21Where is this place, "a long way further than Knighton, | A quieter place than Clun"?
24What mood is established by the end of the poem?