A. E. Housman

Died on this day. See Housman’s entry in Poetry Foundation. I came to know Housman through his classical scholarship and only much later got round to reading his poetry. Housman was a scathe merchant of the highest order, sometimes it felt like wrestling with a razor blade. One of my favorite quotes of his could well be applied to the garden variety regressive.

An editor of no judgment, perpetually confronted with a couple of MSS. to choose from, cannot but feel in every fibre of his being that he is a donkey between two bundles of hay. What shall I do now? Leave criticism to the critics, you might say, and betake himself to any honest trade for which he is less unfit. But he prefers a more flattering solution: he confusedly imagines that if one bundle of hay is removed he will cease to be a donkey.

     Housman, A. E. (1961). Selected prose. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.