Friday, December 07, 2007

So Long Neglected Friday Poetry: A.E. Housman

It's back! It will probably miss one more week in 2007, two weeks from now, but it will miss none in January 2008. This I vow. And this poem has been in my head.

A.E. Housman
[O who is that young sinner]

O who is that young sinner with the handcuffs on his wrists?
And what has he been after that they groan and shake their fists?
And wherefore is he wearing such a conscience-stricken air?
O they're taking him to prison for the colour of his hair.

'Tis a shame to human nature such a head of hair as his.
In the grand old time 'twas hanging for the colour that it is,
Though hanging isn't bad enough and flaying would be fair
For the nameless and abominable colour of his hair.

O a deal of pains he's taken and a pretty price he's paid
To hide his pall or dye it to a mentionable shade,
But they've got the beggar's hat off for the world to see and stare
And they're hailing him to justice for the colour of his hair.

Now 'tis oakum for his fingers and the treadmill for his feet,
And the quarry gang on Portland in the cold and in the heat,
And between his spells of labour and the time he has to spare,
He can curse the God that made him for the colour of his hair.


At 2:27 PM, Blogger Lawrence said...

hmm... you know, i always thought that poem was by Oscar Wilde. a quick flick of the google of course reveals that it's merely *about* Oscar Wilde. silly me. well, of course, it's awesome. now that i'm seeing the whole thing, i'm realizing that of course it's just like Housman to wrench the screws in in this particular fashion. the guy sure knew how to cast you on an arrowed eagle's ride to some mastering emotions.

on a side note, i've just calculated that i own at least twelve Bob Dylan cover albums. how ridiculous is that?


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