Treasure Island

Alfred Edward Housman

(26 March 1859 – 30 April 1936 / Worcestershire)

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Along The Field as We Came By


ALONG the field as we came by
A year ago, my love and I,
The aspen over stile and stone
Was talking to itself alone.
‘Oh who are these that kiss and pass?
A country lover and his lass;
Two lovers looking to be wed;
And time shall put them both to bed,
But she shall lie with earth above,
And he beside another love.’

And sure enough beneath the tree
There walks another love with me,
And overhead the aspen heaves
Its rainy-sounding silver leaves;
And I spell nothing in their stir,
But now perhaps they speak to her,
And plain for her to understand
They talk about a time at hand
When I shall sleep with clover clad,
And she beside another lad.

Submitted: Tuesday, December 31, 2002
Edited: Saturday, September 17, 2011

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Read poems about / on: silver, kiss, tree, sleep, alone, time, love, wedding

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  • Kevin Straw (7/6/2012 10:29:00 AM)

    The story is that the Poet is walking with his love “along the field”.

    As he passes by the “stile and stone” that he passed by a year ago with a love who is now dead, he fancies that the aspen predicted then what would happen – that she would die and he take another love.

    And the Poet now muses that perhaps his present love is hearing the aspen saying to her what the aspen said to him a year ago but in reverse – he dying and she living on.

    The first love was to be forever, and the trauma of losing it has made it impossible for the Poet to look upon the new love in the same way,

    Perhaps he feels he ought to die first assuaging a feeling of guilt he has about the death of his first love – and that is why the thoughts of the second verse enter his mind. (Report) Reply

  • Joseph Poewhit (7/6/2010 2:15:00 AM)

    Housman, capturing the romance of love and the mortal fate of death, playing it's hand. In a way saying, life is short, who knows what the next heart beat will bring, in the field of love. (Report) Reply

  • Ramesh T A (7/6/2010 1:50:00 AM)

    What kind of love is this? Are they really loving each other? Are they both have affairs with other ones each? Aspen tree only knows! (Report) Reply

  • Joey Valenzuela (7/6/2010 1:16:00 AM)

    this poem has something to do with the idea of karma and prophesies....and also, the idea that history repeats itself........

    in the first stanza, there is the scene of lovers passing along the field, and there they heard the aspen tree talking himself about 'these [people, probably] that kiss and pass'

    the tree's quotation somewhat presents a prophesy of what's about to happen, probably...

    But she shall lie with earth above, >>>>>>>>>>in this lines the tree prophesied the
    And he beside another love>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>girl to die, and the man to have >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>another girl

    in the beggining of the second stanza, the prophesy was confirmed to have happened.....

    And sure enough beneath the tree
    There walks another love with me

    on the other hand, in the middle part of stanza two, there again is the prophesizing of the aspen tree, but this time it was told to the girl....

    And overhead the aspen heaves
    Its rainy-sounding silver leaves;
    And I spell nothing in their stir,
    But now perhaps they speak to her,

    and the prophesy then happened (just like the first stanza a lover would die, probably)

    And plain for her to understand
    They talk about a time at hand
    When I shall sleep with clover clad,
    And she beside another lad.

    the idea of karma was presented when the situation that the first girl was into happened to the man........ (Report) Reply

  • Michael Harmon (7/6/2009 11:31:00 AM)

    Meticulously crafted, as are all of Housman's.

    The PH biography notes: '...he argued that poetry should appeal to emotions rather than to the intellect...'

    True enough. However, as with all poets who make such statements (i.e. Sydney, Wordsworth) , it may appeal to the 'emotions', but it was crafted by 'emotions' AND 'intellect'. :) (Report) Reply

  • Dimitris(Jimmy) Psachos (7/6/2007 4:45:00 AM)

    Interesting...to a crushial situation is most ironic I ought to say. However, what would happen if life's obstacles were not as joyful as they seem? Sickness and misfortune for the couple in the end. (Report) Reply

Read all 14 comments »

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