Nox Oculis


Alfred Edward Housman (1859-1936)

Poète et érudit anglais. Sa poésie exerça une influence importance sur les poètes qui le suivirent. Il fut l'un des plus fins scholars de son époque.

Né à Fockbury, un village rural dans le Shropshire, en Angleterre. Comme étudiant à Oxford, il se distingua dans l'étude des classiques mais échoua à ses examens finaux à Oxford en 1881, possiblement à cause du chaos émotionnel engendré par son un homosexuel pour un camarade de classe.

Housman était déterminé à passer outre cet échec. Tout en travaillant au Bureau des brevets de Londres, il rédigea des articles spécialisés pour les revues académiques et poursuivit des études classiques qui lui permirent de décrocher un M.A.. Il fut alors invité à enseigner le au University College de Londres où il occupa la Chaire de latin. En 1910, il devint professeur de latin à Cambridge, où il demeura jusqu'à sa mort en 1936.

De son vivant, il ne publia seulement que deux volumes de poésie : A Shropshire Lad (1896) et Last Poems (1922). Néanmoins ces recueils connurent instantanément un large succès. Les poèmes de Housman, malgré sa réussite, gardaient le ton des poètes latins qu'il admirait : la vie est courte, et l'existence se termine souvent mal. Il produisit une édition monumentale de Manilius (5 volumes, 1903–30), édita Juvenal (1905) et Lucien (1926), rédigea de nombreuses études classiques.

Comme poète, Housman est concerné surtout par la fugacité de l'amour et la déchéance inévitable ed la jeunesse. Dans sa conférence « Le nom et la nature de la poésie » (1933), Housman pense que la poésie doit faire appel aux émotions plutôt qu'à l'intellect.


XVII - Astronomy

    The Wain upon the northern steep
    Descends and lifts away.
    Oh I will sit me down and weep
    For bones in Africa.

    For pay and medals, name and rank,
    Things that he has not found,
    He hove the Cross to heaven and sank
    The pole-star underground.

    And now he does not even see
    Signs of the nadir roll
    At night over the ground where he
    Is buried with the pole.

    A. E. Housman, tiré de Last Poems (1922)


XXIV - Epithalamium

    He is here, Urania's son,
    Hymen come from Helicon ;
    God that glads the lover's heart,
    He is here to join and part.
    So the groomsman quits your side
    And the bridegroom seeks the bride
    Friend and comrade yield you o'er
    To her that hardly loves you more.

    Now the sun his skyward beam
    Has tilted from the Ocean stream.
    Light the Indies, laggard sun :
    Happy bridegroom, day is done,
    And the star from CEta's steep
    Calls to bed but not to sleep.
    Happy bridegroom, Hesper brings

    All desired and timely things.
    All whom morning sends to roam,
    Hesper loves to lead them home.
    Home return who him behold,
    Child to mother, sheep to fold,
    Bird to nest from wandering wide :
    Happy bridegroom, seek your bride.

    Pour it out, the golden cup
    Given and guarded, brimming up,
    Safe through jostling markets borne
    And the thicket of the thorn ;
    Folly spurned and danger past,
    Pour it to the god at last.

    Now, to smother noise and light,
    Is stolen abroad the wildering night,
    And the blotting shades confuse
    Path and meadow full of dews ;
    And the high heavens, that all control,
    Turn in silence round the pole.
    Catch the starry beams they shed
    Prospering the marriage bed,
    And breed the land that reared your prime
    Sons to stay the rot of time.
    All is quiet, no alarms ;
    Nothing fear of nightly harms.
    Safe you sleep on guarded ground,
    And in silent circle round
    The thoughts of friends keep watch and ward,
    Harnessed angels, hand on sword.

    A. E. Housman, tiré de Last Poems (1922)


V - Here are the skies

    Here are the skies, the planets seven,
    And all the starry train :
    Content you with the mimic heaven,
    And on the earth remain.

    A. E. Housman, tiré de Additional Poems (1939)


XI- The rainy Pleiads wester

    The rainy Pleiads wester,
    Orion plunges prone,
    The stroke of midnight ceases,
    And I lie down alone.

    The rainy Pleiads wester
    And seek beyond the sea
    The head that I shall dream of,
    And 'twill not dream of me.

    A. E. Housman, tiré de More Poems (1936)


XXXVI - Revolution

    West and away the wheels of darkness roll,
    Day's beamy banner up the east is borne,
    Spectres and fears, the nightmare and her foal,
    Drown in the golden deluge of the morn.

    But over sea and continent from sight
    Safe to the Indies has the earth conveyed
    The vast and moon-eclipsing cone of night,
    Her towering foolscap of eternal shade.

    See, in mid heaven the sun is mounted; hark,
    The belfries tingle to the noonday chime.
    'Tis silent, and the subterranean dark
    Has crossed the nadir, and begins to climb.

    A. E. Housman, tiré de Last Poems (1922)


VII - Stars, I Have Seen Them Fall

    Stars, I have seen them fall,
    But when they drop and die
    No star is lost at all
    From all the star-sown sky.

    The toil of all that be
    Helps not the primal fault ;
    It rains into the sea,
    And still the sea is salt.

    A. E. Housman, tiré de More Poems (1936)


X - The weeping Pleiads wester

    The weeping Pleiads wester,
    And the moon is under seas ;
    From bourn to bourn of midnight
    Far sighs the rainy breeze

    It sighs from a lost country
    To a land I have not known ;
    The weeping Pleiads wester,
    And I lie down alone.

    A. E. Housman, tiré de More Poems (1936)


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