Housman: A Father-Son 'Collaboration'?

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  • Housman: A Father-Son 'Collaboration'?Author(s): William WhiteSource: Modern Language Notes, Vol. 70, No. 2 (Feb., 1955), pp. 103-104Published by: The Johns Hopkins University PressStable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3040650 .Accessed: 28/06/2014 09:16

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  • America as the home of freedom, the hope of the world, the haven of the oppressed-these are the main ideas in Laon's speech. They may have been part of Shelley's earlier thinking, but not until 1817 when he read Jefferson's first inaugural address, did he fuse these ideas into three vibrant stanzes of the Revolt of Islam.

    Lawrence College ALLAN KLINE

    Housman: A Father-Son ' Collaboration ' ? During the year 1875, when A. E. Housman was between 16 and 17

    years old, he wrote a verse translation of Horace's Ode xi, Book III, about Danaus's daughter Hypermnestra. When he went to Oxford in 1877, he left a copy of it at home in Bromsgrove. Laurence Housman tells us (Atlantic Monthly, CLxxVIII [1946], 120) that 'some years later our father, who had an amiable weakness for regarding himself as part author of anything we wrote which did credit to his parentage, got hold of it, made a few alterations (on which Alfred commented subsequently that he did not think they were improvements), and published it over his own initials in the local paper.' This poem, which L. H. calls 'a competent piece of schoolwork, but not remarkable,' has never been reprinted, nor is it listed in a Housman checklist. It appears in The Bromsgrove, Droitwich, &l Redditch Weekly Messenger, County Journal, and General Advertiser, No. 1272, p. 3, column 6, May 24, 1884 (in 'The Poet's Corner'):

    HYPERMNESTRA: A Legend very freely rendered from Horace,

    (Ode 11, B. 3.)

    Dancius [sic], having been told that one of his fifty nephews would dethrone him, wedded the fifty to his fifty daughters, charging each daughter to slay her husband on the wedding night. All did so but one, and the forty-nine were condemned, in Hades,-to empty a well with bottomless pitchers:-

    Tell Lyde of the crime of Dancuis' daughters: Tell her their doom, of ceaseless, fruitless woe;

    With broken urns to stay the fleeting waters- Tell her what slow!

    VOL. LXX, Febr uary 1955 103

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  • Yet sure, avengements doth dire Orcus keep! Oh! Impious! dared you Hell itself disdain?

    Impious! whose steel-armed hands each gave to sleep- A husband slain!

    One Consort-lit by fire that love can bring- Lied to her cruel sire: That glorious lie!

    Thou noble woman! through the years shall ring, While years roll by!

    "Rise! " said she to the youth her arms entwined; Some foe, thou deem'st a friend, may seal thine eyes

    In the long sleep! My murderous sire make blind By craft! Oh! rise!

    For, like a lioness, slaying in a fold-- Each sister deals a death. Thy gentler bride

    Smites not her spouse; neither shall fetters hold Thee from my side!

    The fetters forged for thee shall weight my hands- These hands that fondled till they could not slay;

    Some ship will bear me from my native land Long leagues away!

    Go thou; take ship! May night, and Venus, give Thee to a home. Heaven bless thee: but, when gone,-

    Carve thou for her who dies that thou mayest live: Some tell-tale stone! "

    E. H. B.1

    This signature, apparently for ' Edward Housman, Bromsgrove,' is used on other poems in the Bromsgrove Messenger: for example, 'The Graveyard Wreath,' No. 1267, p. 6, column 6, April 19, 1884; two sonnets, 'The Redbreast' and 'The Photograph,' No. 1270, p. 6, column 6, May 10, 1884; and 'A Legend of Mexico,' No. 1273, p. 6, column 6, May 31, 1884. There is even one signed 'IH. B. E.' in the Messenger, No. 1264, p. 5, column 6, March 29, 1884, entitled 'German Legend.' But while we have no evidence to link these to A. E. Housman, we may on Laurence Housman's authority assign 'Hypermnestra' to a collaboration of father and son.

    Wayne University WILLIAM WHITE

    1 I am indebted to my colleague, Professor Joseph Prescott, for his help in finding this poem.

    104 Modern Language Notes

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    Article Contentsp. 103p. 104

    Issue Table of ContentsModern Language Notes, Vol. 70, No. 2 (Feb., 1955), pp. 77-156Beowulf 3150-3151: Queen Hygd and the Word "Geomeowle" [pp. 77-87]A Middle English Acrostic [pp. 87-89]The Link Between Pleasure and Communism in Utopia [pp. 90-93]"Those Two Brethren Giants" [pp. 93-94]Four of Swift's Sources [pp. 95-100]The "American" Stanzas in Shelley's Revolt of Islam: A Source [pp. 101-103]Housman: A Father-Son 'Collaboration'? [pp. 103-104]Henry James on The Outcry [pp. 105-106]The Prefaces of George Sand and Henry James [pp. 107-108]A Letter from Friedrich Schlegel [pp. 109-110]An Unpublished Letter from Saint-Pierre to Daguesseau [pp. 110-113]The Chevalier de Mouhy's Newsletter of 20 December 1752 [pp. 114-116]A Note on the Italian Language [pp. 116-117]Algunos Neologismos en Quevedo [pp. 117-119]ReviewsReview: untitled [pp. 120-124]Review: untitled [pp. 124-126]Review: untitled [pp. 126-128]Review: untitled [pp. 128-129]Review: untitled [pp. 130-131]Review: untitled [pp. 131-134]Review: untitled [pp. 134-138]Review: untitled [pp. 138-141]Review: untitled [pp. 141-143]Review: untitled [pp. 144-147]Review: untitled [pp. 147-148]Review: untitled [pp. 148-150]Review: untitled [pp. 151-152]Review: untitled [pp. 152-156]