Song in the Manner of Housman

O woe, woe,
People are born and die,
We also shall be dead pretty soon
Therefore let us act as if we were
dead already.

The bird sits on the hawthorn tree
But he dies also, presently.
Some lads get hung, and some get shot.
Woeful is this human lot.
Woe! woe, etcetera . . . .

London is a woeful place,
Shropshire is much pleasanter.
Then let us smile a little space
Upon fond nature’s morbid grace.
Oh, Woe, woe, woe, etcetera . . .

Analysis, meaning and summary of Ezra Pound's poem Song in the Manner of Housman


  1. Sheryl Skoglund says:

    Then let us smile a little space
    Upon fond natures morbid grace.

  2. Sean says:

    I think the “Woe! woe, etcetera” is a satiric twist on the fact that we think it so sad when someone dies, but we go on grieving long after we really care, and our grieving rituals become more of a habit (etcetera) than an actual meaningful act.

  3. Jim Campbell says:

    This is a little satirical gem. Having for years taken Housman’s ‘A Shropshire Lad’ perhaps a little too seriously (much as I love the song settings by Butterly), I shall now be able to balance that with a little chuckle at H’s almost Dickensian sentimentality. Much appreciated!

  4. Beth says:

    i disagree. although I should be doing my math homework right now, I am procrastinating. In fact, I think this poem is about defiance in the face of death… because death is “obligatory” and unavoidable, it becomes almost comedic that we fear it. of course i can’t see the poem right now, so i’m just going on short-term memory. email me if you would like to respond.

  5. belle says:

    This is a dark and morbid poem. I haven’t really read any of Ezra Pound’s poems before. Although this poem is of a very morbid source, I think that it is truthful as to the way life is. He’s right, we are all going to die. That is a fact of life. Death can be a dark subject depending on how you view it and that is what he does. At least that is my interpertation of it.

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