AE Housman, Land of Lost Content
INTO my heart an air that kills
From yon far country blows:
What are those blue remembered hills,
What spires, what farms are those?
That is the land of lost content,
I see it shining plain,
The happy highways where I went
And cannot come again.
Here’s a lovely reading of the poem in an Inspector Lewis episode:
I just added this because I love this poem. And it’s so different, so quiet and elegiac, from the almost bombastic Auden poem. That one was about grief; this is about regret. A different kind of loss, more simple in some ways, but more complex. It’s not universal the way grief is, but it’s understandable to many of us.
Very simple diction– just two words that might have confusion, both in the first line (air that kills– a breeze? An air in the sense of a song?). The rest is both deep and simple. Short lines, easy rhymes. The complexity is in the emotion.
This does have the visuality of the Auden poem, but carries it all the way through– it’s very English in the sense of the landscape as the controlling metaphor– the hills, the spires, the farms, the shining plain, the highways. We’re kind of invited to stand there with the speaker and see it all, lying ahead of us in the distance– the past, remembered but lost now.
And the last line is another “final”– cannot come again. That’s it. It’s lost.