Far in a western brookland

A Shropshire Lad

V Far in a western brookland C Q
V That bred me long ago
The poplars stand and tremble
V By pools I used to know.
V There, in the windless night-time, 5
V The wanderer, marvelling why, Q
V Halts on the bridge to hearken
How soft the poplars sigh.
V He hears: no more remembered Q
V In fields where I was known, 10
V Here I lie down in London Q
V And turn to rest alone. Q
V There, by the starlit fences,
V The wanderer halts and hears,
V My soul that lingers sighing 15 Q
V About the glimmering weirs.
Key: V: Textual Variation. C: Commentary. Q: Question. Glossary


ASL LII “Far in a western brookland”

Top ▲ Glossary

Line Word Glossary
1 brookland An area of marshy water-meadow.
3 poplars A slender quick-growing tree of the willow family.
16 weirs A 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)
1 The 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.
1 brookland: Jeremy Bourne in “The Westerly Wanderer” (1996) describes such an area behind Housman’s childhood home at Perry Hall in Bromsgrove.
meter Four line stanzas of alternating seven and six syllable lines; even numbered lines rhyme.


Top ▲ Variations

Line Text Textual variation
1 D1 <Far in a> \ <Deep> \ Far / in a / pastoral \ <distant> / \ <cloven> / woodland \ ploughland /
1 D2 western brookland] <cloven ploughland>
2 D1 bred me years] bred \ <loved> / me \ [?me] / <years> \ long /
4 D2 pools] \ <streams> /
5 D1 in the windless night-time,] <in the windless midnight,> \ when the night is windless, / in the windless <midnight> \ night-time / ,
6 D1 <The traveller ^ passing by ^ > The wanderer ^ marvelling why ^
7 D1 Halts] <Leans>
9 D1 He hearkens; <long> \ <clean> / \ long / forgotten
9 D2 no more remembered] long since forgotten (All editions before Nov 1922)
10 D1 <In all that> [?country round]
11 D1 <I lay me down and slumber> to slumber \ Here I lie down in London /
11 D2 <I lay me down \ Here I lie down / in London>
12 D1 <With [?round]> [?With] round. \ With leagues around.
12 D2 <And turn to rest \ dreams / alone>
13 D1 fences] palings
13 D2 <palings>
14 D1 wanderer] traveller
15 D1 lingers] wanders
16 D1 weirs] meres


Top ▲ Questions

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