Today is the anniversary of A.E. Housman's birth in Worcestershire in 1859.
He wasn't known for that saucy area though, because of his poetry collection
A Shropshire Lad
which George Orwell pointed out was memorized and carried around by everyone who was a teenager around 1910-25 because "its adolescent themes of murder, suicide, unhappy love, and early death; and its “bitter, defiant paganism, a conviction that life is short and the gods are against you, which exactly fitted the prevailing mood of the young.”
Reading up on Housman has me thinking again about the English countryside and how it was romanticized by a certain class of urbanite who could afford to travel, and who would end up in a Latin class at Cambridge under Prof. Housman's tutelage:
The article quotes both Edmund Wilson (a personal fave of mine) and Cyril Connolly on why Housman doesn't rank with the highest poets even though he was so popular there for a while, which seems extra poignant since neither of them gets much attention nowadays:
"As Edmund Wilson said, “H[ousman's] world has no opening horizons; it is a prison that one can only endure. One can only come the same painful cropper over and over again and draw from it the same bitter moral.” But few writers have expressed this dark if limited vision with more poignancy and clarity than Housman."
Housman died in 1936 in Cambridge. He always cared more about his work as a Latin scholar than as a romantic poet.