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Housman poem Reveille from Shropshire Lad
Posted by: Paulie (---.proxy.aol.com)
Date: November 30, 2003 05:18PM

I saw someone posting about Housman's "Reveille". Could you tell me if it is a ballad? or is there a theme to it? Also I have bee dying to know what this stanza means

Towns and countries woo together
Forelands beacon, belfries call;
Never lad that trod on leather
Lived to feast his heart with all.

thanks


Re: Housman poem Reveille from Shropshire Lad
Posted by: Hugh Clary (---.denver-01rh15-16rt.co.dial-access.att.net)
Date: December 01, 2003 03:07PM


No, it's not a ballad (musical story/adventure poem). But, a ballad still could have a theme - not mutually exclusive, I mean.

Towns and countries woo together,
Forelands beacon, belfries call;
Never lad that trod on leather
Lived to feast his heart with all.

Well, trod on leather means, wore shoes, I would guess. Forelands beacon seems to be a lighthouse reference, but not one warning about the rocks below. Belfries sound bells, surely, but not one of alarm. Both refer to hospitality, at least to my mind. Towns and countries invite each other to visit.

There is not enough time to feast one's heart with all, sadly. Still, let's get moving to enjoy as much of it as we possibly can!

That's my take, anyway.


Re: Housman poem Reveille from Shropshire Lad
Posted by: Linda (---.cache.pol.co.uk)
Date: December 01, 2003 04:28PM

Beacons could be warning of invasion, as could the ringing of bells.
cf. Macaulay's The Armada.

All at once on all her stately gates arose the answering fires;
At once the wild alarum clashed from all her reeling spires.


Till Skidaw saw the fire that burned on Gaunt's embattled pile,
And the red glare on Skidaw roused the burghers of Carlisle.

I know the church bells were silenced during WW11 so that their ringing could be used as a signal of German invasion, it may have been so during WW1, but I have no information to hand on this.

Then again the beacons were lit to celebrate the queen's jubilee. So it will depend on how you read the rest of the poem to decide between celebration or invasion.



Post Edited (12-01-03 15:28)


Re: Housman poem Reveille from Shropshire Lad
Posted by: Henry (213.78.162.---)
Date: December 01, 2003 05:20PM

A Shropshire Lad was published in 1896. The first poem is titled 1887 and begins;

From Clee to heaven the beacon burns,
The shires have seen it plain,
From north and south the sign returns
And beacons burn again.

Look left, look right, the hills are bright,
The dales are light between,
Because 'tis fifty years to-night
That God has saved the Queen.

The autograph copy is on display in the Wren Library at Trinity College, Cambridge. When we went to see it in the summer, it was open at XXXl On Wenlock Edge the wood's in trouble.


Re: Housman poem Reveille from Shropshire Lad
Posted by: Linda (---.cache.pol.co.uk)
Date: December 01, 2003 05:28PM

Thanks, Henry, so its celebratory. I'm afraid I've only read Sayer's comments in one of the Peter Wimsey stories that its really waiting for the lad's execution, and somewhere else that its mostly playing pontoon.


Re: Housman poem Reveille from Shropshire Lad
Posted by: IanB (---.tnt11.mel1.temp.da.uu.net)
Date: December 02, 2003 08:54AM

According to my dictionary, 'beacon' can be read as a verb, rather like 'beckon'.




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