A E Housman is the perfect poet for a young man; his poems are all about rejection, unrequited love, despair and sacrifice. It’s no wonder that I liked him so much when I was a teenager. He is often quoted on Remembrance Day for his verses about young men going to war and not returning.
Here dead we lie
Because we did not choose
To live and shame the land
From which we sprung
Life to be sure
Is nothing much to lose
But young men think it is
And we were young
I read those lines and think of Frank Taylor. I’m also reminded of my English teacher who used to bound into the class reciting a verse which he said was Housman’s:
What! Still alive at 22
A fine upstanding chap like you
Like as not you won’t be glad
When they come to hang you lad.
He was teasing us; it’s a parody. I’d like to know who wrote it.