In valleys of springs of rivers

A Shropshire Lad

Clunton and Clunbury C
Clungunford and Clun,
Are the quietest places
Under the sun.
In valleys of springs and rivers,
By Ony and Teme and Clun, C
V The country for easy livers,
The quietest under the sun,
V We still had sorrows to lighten, 5 Q
V One could not be always glad,
V And lads knew trouble at Knighton C
When I was a Knighton lad.
By bridges that Thames runs under,
In London, the town built ill, 10 Q
‘Tis sure small matter for wonder
V If sorrow is with one still.
And if as a lad grows older
The troubles he bears are more,
He carries his griefs on a shoulder 15
That handselled them long before.
V Where shall one halt to deliver
V This 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 Word Glossary
16 handselled Tested, tried, proved
18 lief Readily or without reluctance


Top ▲ Commentary

Line Commentary
Date: May – July 1895 (1st and 2nd drafts)
Prefatory quatrain Traditional Verse; in some versions “quietest” is replaced by “drunkenest”. All four places are small Shropshire villages
2 Three 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!
7 Knighton: a town on the River Teme, 14 miles W of Ludlow
22 Clun: the village, presumably, rather than the river.
meter Four line stanzas of alternate eight and six syllables (iambic quatrameter and iambic trimeter), rhymed alternately.


Top ▲ Variations

Line Text Textual variation
3 D1 <In hamlets of old long livers>, \ The country <of> \ for / quiet livers
3 D2 easy] <quiet>
5 D1 <The heart had> \ <There still were> / \ We still had / troubles to lighten
5 D2 <We still had sorrows \ <trouble> <burdens> / to lighten Still we had loads to lighten
6 D2 be always] \ <for ever> /
7 D1 <And> <lads> Lads <could be> \ <were> / \ <would be> / <sorry> \ <had sorrows> knew sorrow / at Knighton <,>
7 D2 <Lads> \ And lads / knew trouble \ <sorrows> / at Knighton
12 D1 sorrow] trouble
with one} <on me>
17 D2 <Where shall the porter \ <can one halt> <and>/ \ to / deliver Where <can> \ does / one halt to deliver
18 D2 <The luggage that wearies \ <loads> / him |<one> me / down?> <The> This luggage I’d life set down?
21 D2 <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
5 Consider 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?
5 Compare 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?
10 Why is London described as “the town built ill“?
21 Where is this place, “a long way further than Knighton, | A quieter place than Clun“?
24 What mood is established by the end of the poem?