Epitaph on an Army of Mercenaries

By A. E. Housman 1859–1936
These, in the days when heaven was falling,
The hour when earth's foundations fled,
Followed their mercenary calling
And took their wages and are dead.
Their shoulders held the sky suspended;
They stood, and the earth's foundations stay;
When God abandoned, these defended,
And saved the sum of things for pay.

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Poet A. E. Housman 1859–1936

POET’S REGION England

SCHOOL / PERIOD Victorian

Subjects Social Commentaries, History & Politics, Money & Economics, War & Conflict

Poetic Terms Quatrain, Rhymed Stanza

 A. E. Housman

Biography

At first glance nothing seems more unlikely than that the poet of the enormously popular A Shropshire Lad should be the classical scholar A. E. Housman. This Cambridge University professor of Latin left no doubt as to his priorities: the emendation of classical texts was both an intellectual search for the truth and his life's work; poetry was an emotional and physiological experience that began with a sensation in the pit of . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Social Commentaries, History & Politics, Money & Economics, War & Conflict

POET’S REGION England

SCHOOL / PERIOD Victorian

Poetic Terms Quatrain, Rhymed Stanza

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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