Tuesday poem: Here dead lie we, by A.E. Housman

Here dead lie we,

by A. E. Housman

Here dead lie we, because we did not choose

To live and shame the land from which we sprung.

Life, to be sure, is nothing much to lose;

But young men think it is, and we were young.

I seem to be stuck in a forcefield of melancholic poetry – that is, in the world of Alfred Edward Houseman. ┬áLast week I posted ‘Loveliest of trees …’ and realised how close the passing of days now seems, in contrast to how I felt when I was the same age as the twenty year-old narrator of that poem. This week, with the Libyan rebels/freedom fighters/opposition much in my mind, I happened to find this poem. It makes your heart ache, but it’s the right one for our times.

On a much happier note, this is the Tuesday Poem blog’s birthday week! And in celebration of that, the Tuesday Poets are writing a collective poem. As Mary McCallum, the onlie begetter of this enterprise, said in a recent email: “We are a community, something I hadn’t unexpected when it began – at least, not to this degree. I’ve found it supportive and stimulating and pretty damn wonderful.” Me too, Mary, me too!

So do please visit the TP blog and track the poem as it develops over this week: as I write this the first line-and-a-half are up, and it looks very exciting …

2 Responses to “Tuesday poem: Here dead lie we, by A.E. Housman”

  1. Alison Hunter Says:

    I always loved this cheeky poem by Houseman:


    Is my team ploughing,
    That I was used to drive
    And hear the harness jingle
    When I was man alive?’

    Ay, the horses trample,
    The harness jingles now;
    No change though you lie under
    The land you used to plough.

    ‘Is football playing
    Along the river shore,
    With lads to chase the leather,
    Now I stand up no more?’

    Ay, the ball is flying,
    The lads play heart and soul,
    The goal stands up, the keeper
    Stands up to keep the goal.

    ‘Is my girl happy,
    That I thought hard to leave,
    And has she tired of weeping
    As she lies down at eve?’

    Ay, she lies down lightly,
    She lies not down to weep:
    Your girl is well contented.
    Be still, my lad, and sleep.

    ‘Is my friend hearty,
    Now I am thin and pine,
    And has he found to sleep in
    A better bed than mine?’

    Yes, lad, I lie easy,
    I lie as lads would choose;
    I cheer a dead man’s sweetheart,
    Never ask me whose.

  2. admin Says:

    Hey girl, this is new to me – so thanks a bundle for introducing me to it, and for surfacing in my blog. See you soon!

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.