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Blunt, Bleak, but Buoyant

Housman focused his early poems on simple subjects: trees and nature and life and death in the English countryside—a lot of death actually. Housman is famous for tackling dark subjects. Many of his poems are about the endless human struggle against sadness and pain. In "Terence this is stupid stuff," the speakers of his poems have to confront a harsh world, full of trouble, without any help from God or religion. Maybe his most famous poem is called "To an Athlete Dying Young," which we think gives you a pretty good sense of the general mood.

Still, even though he has plenty to say about death, the shortness of life, depression and suicide, he's got a brighter side too. His poems have flashes of humor and joy, and they have a simple, direct style that has won him fans for years. The style is pretty traditional, but the feelings are deep and beautifully heart-felt.

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