Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry: Explained, A SHROPSHIRE LAD: 13, by ALFRED EDWARD HOUSMAN

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Classic and Contemporary Poetry: Explained

A SHROPSHIRE LAD: 13, by             Poet Analysis     Poet's Biography

"A Shropshire Lad: 13" is a poem by Alfred Edward Housman, first published in his 1896 collection, "A Shropshire Lad." The poem reflects on the idea of lost love and the pain it can cause.


The poem describes the speaker's experience of lost love, emphasizing the sense of longing and pain that comes with it. The speaker reflects on the idea that time cannot heal the wounds of lost love, and on the way the memory of the loved one can linger on long after they are gone.

Poetic Elements:

  • Form:
  • "A Shropshire Lad: 13" is written in a traditional rhyming form, with a strict ABAB rhyme scheme and a consistent meter. The use of formal structure creates a sense of order and control, reflecting the speaker's attempt to manage and understand their emotions.
  • Imagery:
  • Housman uses vivid imagery to create a sense of the pain and longing the speaker feels after losing their love. The descriptions of the "sad November day" and the "falling leaves" evoke a sense of melancholy and sadness.
  • Metaphor:
  • The poem employs the metaphor of the "heart" as a symbol of the speaker's emotions, emphasizing the way lost love can cause pain and longing that feels physical in nature. Additionally, the metaphor of the "lingering perfume" is used to highlight the way the memory of the loved one can linger on long after they are gone.
  • Tone:
  • The tone of the poem is melancholy and reflective, with a sense of resignation and acceptance underlying it. The speaker recognizes the pain and longing that comes with lost love, but is also aware of the inevitability of it and the way it is a part of the human experience.


Through "A Shropshire Lad: 13," Housman explores the pain and longing that comes with lost love, and the way it can linger on long after the loved one is gone. The poem serves as a reminder of the importance of love in our lives, and of the need to cherish it while we can.


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