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A.E HOUSMAN.  Housman, whose father was a solicitor, was one of seven children. He much preferred his mother; and her death on his 12th birthday was.

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Presentation on theme: "A.E HOUSMAN.  Housman, whose father was a solicitor, was one of seven children. He much preferred his mother; and her death on his 12th birthday was."— Presentation transcript:


2  Housman, whose father was a solicitor, was one of seven children. He much preferred his mother; and her death on his 12th birthday was a cruel blow, which is surely one source of the pessimism his poetry expresses.  While a student at Oxford, he was further oppressed by his dawning realization of homosexual desires. These came to focus in an intense love for one of his fellow students (Moses Jackson), an athletic young man who became his friend but who could not reciprocate his love. In turmoil emotionally, Housman failed to pass his final examination at Oxford, although he had been a brilliant scholar.

3  The failure left him with a deep sense of humiliation, and a determination to vindicate his genius.  When Jackson returned briefly to England in 1889 to marry, Housman not only was not invited to the wedding but knew nothing about it until the couple had left the country.  In 1892 he was offered the professorship of Latin at University College London, which he accepted. Many years later, the UCL academic staff common room was dedicated to his memory as the Housman Room. 

4  The poem has a traditional structure, with two four line stanzas. Each has an ABAB structure.  The simple and concise form gives the effect of a eulogy (tribute) or lament (grief) for e.g the narrator in the poem is guilty and expresses only what must be said.  ABAB rhyme - a marching rhythm, like a soldier’s march or a march towards death

5  My Dreams are of a Field Afar 1 st person point of view - speaker Dreams- imply fantasy Field- sets the scene of a battlefield Afar- direct emphasis on the poet’s friends as being far from him since they died ( narrated by a survivor of the battlefield) ***Housman would not be referring to himself personally as he himself was never IN a war.  The first line is a confession to the reader- the poet ‘dreams’ of a ‘field afar’. As it is a dream, it is a reflection on something which is affecting him strongly.

6  The neutral first line is suddenly disrupted with ‘blood and smoke and shot’ in line two, introducing the theme of war.  ‘And blood and smoke and shot’ -Enjambment from the previous line ‘Smoke and shot’- creates an image of war and a violent atmosphere. ** War is very ugly and terrifying e.g wars happening in the world today

7  ‘There in their graves’ sets the poem in a physical place - the battlefield where the narrator’s fellow soldiers died. The ‘comrades’ are referred to as such to build on the war/battle image.  However, ‘In my grave I am not’ refers to the poet’s guilt of not joining the ‘comrades’ in battle.

8  “There in the graves my comrades are” There (preposition)- very specific Graves- negative imagery Comrades- interesting use of vocabulary instead of ‘friends’ as it may imply a sense of patriotism  “In my grave I am not” Repetition: ‘grave’ ‘I am not’- poet is happy to be alive Creates a more positive mood

9 ‘I too was taught the trade of man And spelt the lesson plain;’  ‘taught’ and ‘lesson’ show that fighting was something to be learnt and was a skill to master  ‘trade of man’ - metaphor for the role of soldiers and war, tone seems sarcastic and ridiculing the job, perhaps the narrator was trained to be a soldier but was not committed and hence the underlying guilt in the poem. Also shows the expectations of ‘man’ in society - to fight and defend his country.

10 ‘But they, when I forgot and ran, Remembered and remained.’  Contrasts the narrator to his fellow soldiers - opposites “forgot...remembered” and “ran...remained” and hence the guilt the narrator feels for the others’ deaths.  Also contrasts with the first line “I too...” and “But they...” highlighting differences between the narrator and his comrades.  All the narrator could do was run away from his duties as a soldier while his friends died as heroes, his emotions cannot be held in longer and the guilt is taking over his dreams.  Alliteration - the soldiers were all alike and followed their duties

11  This poem is about guilt, loss and choices.  The poet is conveying to the readers that people died in the war because of the decisions and choices that are made.  This shows signs of guilt in which a man remembers his fallen comrades – ‘in their graves my comrades are,’ and laments not having acted in a certain way. The author mentions the fact that he remains alive because, unlike the others, he failed to react in an honourable and satisfactory manner – ‘I forgot and ran.’  The title suggests that what happened to him during the war is all he thinks about. It dominates his dreams.


13  The army insisted on minimum standards of education for soldiers promoted to the rank of corporal and higher standards for those promoted to sergeant or above. From 1871, there were compulsory education classes for new recruits, though this was discontinued in 1888 as most recruits had received at least rudimentary education to the age of thirteen. The illiteracy rate within the army declined from 90% in 1871 to almost zero by the 1890s, though fewer than 40% of soldiers achieved (or perhaps troubled to achieve) more than the lowest standard of education required.  Restrictions on the number of soldiers who could marry were eased, and all soldiers' wives could accompany their husbands when they changed station (though not on campaign). However, there was official and practical discouragement of soldiers (and officers) who wished to marry while young.

14  Compulsory? National service?  You do not have to obtain a certain degree of education?  War is considered bad however it is happening in different parts of the world  Examples: Afghanistan War, Al-Qaeda War, Colombian Civil War, Iraq War, Korean Conflict etc

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