February 2013 | Nate Pedersen

Unpublished A. E. Housman Poem Coming Up to Auction

220px-Alfred_Edward_Housman.jpegIn the wake of Valentine's Day, a very personal - and unpublished - A. E. Housman poem about unrequited love will be included in the extensive poetry sale coming up at Bonham's this spring.  The tender poem was written by Housman in 1917 about his life-long love for Moses Jackson.  Housman and Jackson attended Oxford together as undergraduates.  After University, Housman followed Jackson to London where they jointly took up work in the Patents Office.  Jackson soon married and left for India with his bride, spending the rest of his career abroad. 

Housman never recovered from the blow.

The poem - faintly written in pencil with clear attempts to erase it - passed into the keeping of Housman's brother after his death in 1936.  Housman's brother debated destroying the poem, but was advised to keep it by Alfred Pollard, a friend of Housman's from his Oxford days.

The poem is estimated by Bonham's to reach £25,000 at auction.

"Oh were he and I together"

Oh were he and I together

  Shipmates on the fleeted main,

Sailing through the summer weather

  To the spoil of France or Spain.


Oh were he and I together,

  Locking hands and taking leave,

Low upon the trampled heather

   In the battle lost at eve.


Now are he and I asunder

  And asunder to remain;

Kingdoms are for others' plunder,

  And content for other slain.