I hoed and trenched and weeded

A Shropshire Lad

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 them 5
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 them 15 Q
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 Word Glossary
1 hoed Dug 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.)

1 trenched Cleared trenches and ditches to allow drainage
3 unheeded Unnoticed
4 hue Colour
4 wear Fashion
10 mars Spoils


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)
9 cf Matthew: 13: 4 “some seeds fell by the wayside, and the birds came and devoured them up
meter Four line stanzas, alternating seven and six syllables, rhymed alternately.


Top ▲ Questions

Line Question
1 If 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?
7 Of which other lines from the collection does this line remind you?
12 Comment on the use of alliteration in this poem.
14 What do you think “light-leaved” means?
15 Why is it “luckless” lads who will wear the flowers?