First published in 1896, A Shropshire Lad is undoubtedly A.E. Housman's most famous collection of poetry.

It is composed of 63 poems, most without titles, that form a paean to the rural English countryside of Shropshire. They slide between desire, regret and nostalgia with a very British turn of phrase. The most famous poems from the book are To An Athete Dying Young, When I Was One-And-Twenty and Terence, This is Stupid Stuff. It was not a widely known book when first released, although popular among writers and intellectuals. The book became nationally recognized after World War I, as England mourned the generation of young men lost in the trenches. Its popularity was also helped by a number of composers setting its verse to music.

I read some of these poems in high school and more now, and my opinion hasn't changed. These are not great poems, and a fair amount aren't even good. Of course, I'm not quite the right audience, as my appreciation for English farmboys is much smaller than A.E. Housman, but they still don't seem that great. But a few poems in this book sit up and grab one's attention with their imagery or relevance to life. These will be read for quite some time. I've bolded the ones I like, and noded them to boot.

1. "From Clee to heaven the beacon burns"
2. "Loveliest of trees, the cherry now"
3. The Recruit
4. Reveille
5. "Oh see how thick the goldcup flowers"
6. "When the lad for longing sighs"
7. "When smoke stood up from Ludlow"
8. "Farewell to barn and stack and tree"
9. "On moonlit heath and lonesome bank"
10. Marhch
11. "On your midnight pallet lying"
12. "When I watch the living meet"
13. "When I was one-and-twenty"
14. "There pass the careless people"
15. "Look not in my eyes, for fear"
16. "It nods and curtseys and recovers"
17. "Twice a week the winter thorough"
18. "Oh, when I was in love with you"
19. To an Athlete Dying Young
20. "Oh fair enough are sky and plain"
21. Bredon Hill
22. "The street sounds to the soldiers' tread"
23. "The lads in their hundreds to Ludlow come in for the fair"
24. "Say, lad, have you things to do?"
25. "This time of year a twelvemonth past"
26. "Along the field as we came by"
27. "Is my team ploughing"
28. The Welsh Marches
29. The Lent Lily
30. "Others, I am not the first"
31. "On Wenlock Edge the wood's in trouble"
32. "From far, from eve and morning"
33. "If truth in hearts that perish"
34. The New Mistress
35. "On the idle hill of summer"
36. "White in the moon the long road lies"
37. "As through the wild green hills of Wyre"
38. "The winds out of the west land blow"
39. "'Tis time, I think, by Wenlock town"
40. "Into my heart an air that kills"
41. "In my own shire, if I was sad"
42. The Merry Guide
43. The Immortal Part
44. "Shot? so quick, so clean an ending"
45. "If it chance your eye offend you"
46. "Bring, in this timeless grave to throw"
47. "Here the hangman stops his cart"
48. "Be still, my soul, be still"
49. "Think no more, lad; laugh, be jolly"
50. "In valleys of springs of rivers"
51. "Loitering with a vacant eye"
52. "Far in a western brookland"
53. "The lad came to the door at night"
54. "With rue my heart is laden"
55. "Westward on the high-hilled plains"
56. "Far I hear the bugle blow"
57. "You smile upon your friend to-day"
58. "When I came last to Ludlow"
59. "The star-filled seas are smooth to-night"
60. "Now hollow fires burn out to black"
61. "The vane on Hughley steeple"
62. "Terence, this is stupid stuff"
63. "I hoed and trenched and weeded"

The poems in A Shropshire Lad are nice because you don't need a Masters in Poetry Appreciation to enjoy them. That's why I read them in high school, and that's why they've stuck with me since then. Dragoon's assessment is realistic; if I knew more than two or three poets I would be able to offer an opinion as to whether some poems in it are truly great. In my opinion, the ones that are really, really good are:

With rue my heart is laden (short, simple, powerful, perfect meter, elegant)
Terence, this is stupid stuff (wise, humorous),
Others, I am not the first (just plain stylish)

I read through A Shropshire Lad every so often, just because every time I do, some new poem catches my eye and fancy. Just to highlight the ones I have a fondness for, here they are:
XXI   XVII   XLIX   LI   LVII

Anyway, the main reason for this write-up is that I have noded all the remaining poems in the book, so go take a browse.

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