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First published in 1922, Last Poems was, appropriately enough, A.E. Housman's final publication before his death in 1936.

Its forty-one poems are, like those in his better-known A Shropshire Lad, largely untitled. The book is a set of previously-unpublished poems collected for Housman's closest friend, Moses Jackson, as Jackson lay terminally ill.

Few of these poems garner the recognition of A Shropshire Lad, mostly due to the fact that the volume itself is little-known outside rather specialized circles. Contributing to its exile, Last Poems takes the despondant voice veined throughout Shropshire Lad and with it overpowers all other concerns, making it much more difficult for a culture of antidepressants to accept.

The entire collection, being published in 1922, is in the public domain.

Introduction

I publish these poems, few though they are, because it is not likely that I shall ever be impelled to write much more. I can no longer expect to be revisited by the continuous excitement under which in the early months of 1895 I wrote the greater part of my other book, nor indeed could I well sustain it if it came; and it is best that what I have written should be printed while I am here to see it though the press and control its spelling and punctuation. About a quarter of this matter belongs to the April of the present year, but most of it to dates between 1895 and 1910.

September 1922

Frontispiece

We’ll to the woods no more,
The laurels all are cut,
The bowers are bare of bay
That once the Muses wore;
The year draws in the day
And soon will evening shut:
The laurels all are cut,
We’ll to the woods no more.
Oh we’ll no more, no more
To the leafy woods away,
To the high wild woods of laurel
And the bowers of bay no more.

Contents

  1. The West
  2. "As I gird on for fighting"
  3. "Her strong enchantments failing"
  4. Illic Jacet
  5. Grenadier
  6. Lancer
  7. "In valleys green and still"
  8. "Soldier from the wars returning"
  9. "The chestnut casts his flambeaux"
  10. "Could man be drunk for ever"
  11. "Yonder see the morning blink"
  12. "The laws of God, the laws of man" †
  13. The Deserter
  14. The Culprit
  15. "He stood, and heard the steeple"
  16. Spring Morning
  17. Astronomy
  18. "The rain, it streams on stone and hillock"
  19. "In midnights of November"
  20. "The night is freezing fast"
  21. "The fairies break their dances"
  22. "The sloe was lost in flower"
  23. "In the morning, in the morning"
  24. Epithalamium
  25. The Oracles
  26. "The half-moon westers low, my love"
  27. "The sigh that heaves the grasses"
  28. "Now dreary dawns the eastern light"
  29. "Wake not for the world-heard thunder"
  30. Sinner's Rue
  31. Hell Gate
  32. "When I would muse in boyhood"
  33. "When the eye of day is shut"
  34. The First of May
  35. "When first my way to fair I took"
  36. "West and away the wheels of darkness roll"
  37. Epitaph on an Army of Mercenaries
  38. "Oh stay at home, my lad, and plough"
  39. "When summer's end is nighing"
  40. "Tell me not here, it needs not saying"
  41. Fancy's Knell

† Pre-existing writeup not yet integrated into the book.

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