Saturday Poem – Be Still, My Soul, Be Still

I know Housman best for his poem about spreading his dreams beneath the feet of his beloved – this one is far more negative.  The message appears to be that pain is inevitable, suffering unavoidable and that patience is the only way to overcome the travails of life.  It is not an uplifting set of verses but still I was drawn to the beauty of the words within.

Be Still, My Soul, Be Still

Be still, my soul, be still; the arms you bear are brittle,
Earth and high heaven are fixt of old and founded strong.
Think rather,– call to thought, if now you grieve a little,
The days when we had rest, O soul, for they were long.

Men loved unkindness then, but lightless in the quarry
I slept and saw not; tears fell down, I did not mourn;
Sweat ran and blood sprang out and I was never sorry:
Then it was well with me, in days ere I was born.

Now, and I muse for why and never find the reason,
I pace the earth, and drink the air, and feel the sun.
Be still, be still, my soul; it is but for a season:
Let us endure an hour and see injustice done.

Ay, look: high heaven and earth ail from the prime foundation;
All thoughts to rive the heart are here, and all are vain:
Horror and scorn and hate and fear and indignation–
Oh why did I awake? when shall I sleep again?

A.E. Housman

For past Saturday Poems, take a look at the archive in Poetry Please.

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One thought on “Saturday Poem – Be Still, My Soul, Be Still

  1. I’m curretly reading ‘The Lie’ by Helen Dunmore (a think it was her last novel) which is about a soldier returning home after WWI to his home village in the West Country, and Houseman’s poem reminded me of it.

    One of those occasions when some background information on the poet’s intentions would help our understanding. Despite that, a thoughtful and moving poem.

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