Books: Dual Nature

A.E. HOUSMAN: THE SCHOLAR-POET

by Richard Perceval Graves

Scribners; 304 pages; $15.95

Like J.R.R. Tolkien and C.L. Dodgson (Lewis Carroll), A. (for Alfred) E. (for Edward) Housman made scholarship his vocation and writing his pastime. Like those two, he is forgotten for his academic work and celebrated for his diversion. Since its publication in 1896, A Shropshire Lad has never gone out of print. Tens of thousands who never read verse can recall its athlete dying young, its rosy-lipped maids and doomed youths reveling in a haunting English countryside.

Simple, direct and suffused with melancholy, the poems were carried into the trenches of World...

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