Houseman, A E - The nature of inspiration
Type of Spiritual Experience
Alfred Edward Housman ( 26 March 1859 – 30 April 1936), usually known as A. E. Housman, was an English classical scholar and poet, best known to the general public for his cycle of poems A Shropshire Lad. Lyrical and almost epigrammatic in form, the poems wistfully evoke the dooms and disappointments of youth in the English countryside. Their beauty, simplicity and distinctive imagery appealed strongly to late Victorian and Edwardian taste, and to many early 20th-century English composers (beginning with Arthur Somervell) both before and after the First World War. Through their song-settings, the poems became closely associated with that era, and with Shropshire itself.
A description of the experience
The Name and nature of poetry – A E Houseman
Poetry seems to me more physical than intellectual. A year or two ago, in common with others, I received from America, a request that I would define poetry. I replied that I could no more define poetry than a terrier can define a rat, but that I thought we both recognised the object by h the symptoms which it provokes in us.
One of these symptoms was described in connection with another object by Eliphaz the Temanite:
‘A spirit passed before my face; the hair of my flesh stood up’.