Farewell to Barn and Stack and Tree Sample Answer Part 1

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  • Housman is said originally to have titled his book The Poems of Terence Hearsay.
  • A Shropshire Lad is a collection of sixty-three poems by the English poet Alfred Edward Housman, published in 1896.
  • For W. H. Auden and his generation “no other poet seemed so perfectly to express the sensibility of a male adolescent”; and George Orwell remembered that, among his generation at Eton College in the wake of World War 1, “these were the poems which I and my contemporaries used to recite to ourselves, over and over, in a kind of ecstasy”.They responded to Housman’s lament for the transience of love, idealism and youth in what was in essence a half-imaginary pastoral countryside in a county only visited by him after he had begun writing the poems.

Houseman, through his poem Farewell to Barn and Stack and Tree stresses his readers that conflicts between siblings can disrupt home life. Discuss.

A.E. Houseman self-published his first poetry collection ‘Shropshire lad’ (1896) which is set in the pastoral landscape of the England countryside; the poems focus on themes such as despair, guilt and disruption of family life. Terence is a fictional character that is central to the poetry collection. In this essay I will explore how the conflict between the two brothers affect their fraternity, farm and family (mother).

It is suggested that the murder of Maurice may be due to a love triangle, but evidence seems to be meagre to support this claim. However, it can be assumed that the two brothers, even with their conflicts and disagreements, worked together as brothers and had a brotherly bond.

The sun burns on the half-mown hill

The hill is half-mown, suggesting that before the incident occurred, they were working together on the farm. This suggests unity; it was a usual day like any other, where they went on with the daily chores of the farm. The brother who murders Maurice regrets what he does. His guilt and the fact that he regrets having to leave his home prove this assertion.

His guilt is revealed through the repetition of the blood in his hands.

‘…a bloody hand to shake

My bloody hands and I’

This may be a literal reference to the blood on his hands. However, it is without a doubt a reference also to the metaphorical blood on his hands – vis-à-vis his guilt. The repetition of the phrase suggests how profoundly moved he is by the guilt, not unlike Lady Macbeth whose guilt drove her mad until she ended up chanting ‘out out damned spot!’ This guilt suggests that he regrets having murdered his brother and informs us that it was not a premeditated attack but a reactionary deed done possibly in a paroxysm of anger. In this way, due to the conflict the brothers had, which was not resolved in any other way, their brotherhood is cut short and the brothers in the family are no more.

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