Friday, August 27, 2010


I Love No Leafless Land

A.E. Housman, More Poems, VIII:
Give me a land of boughs in leaf,
    A land of trees that stand;
Where trees are fallen, there is grief;
    I love no leafless land.

Alas, the country whence I fare,
    It is where I would stay;
And where I would not, it is there
    That I shall be for aye.

And one remembers, and one forgets,
    But 'tis not found again,
Not though they hale in crimsoned nets
    The sunset from the main.
Could Housman have had Ovid in the back of his mind when he wrote this poem? The speaker is going into exile unwillingly (second stanza), and one of the things Ovid hated about his exile in Tomis was the lack of trees: "aspiceres nudos sine fronde, sine arbore, campos" (Tristia 3.10.75); "non salices ripa, robora monte virent" (Ex Ponto 1.3.52); and "non hic pampineis amicitur vitibus ulmus" (Ex Ponto 3.8.13).

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