September 30, 2010
The Carpenter’s Son
A.E. Housman’s “The Carpenter’s Son” is taken from a collection of poems called “A Shropshire Lad.” Housman complied these poems soon after the unfortunate death of a very close mate. “The Carpenter’s Son” talks about a man who made choices in his life which led him to his own demise. Housman paints himself in the poem, twists the theme of the story of the “true” carpenter’s son(Jesus), and also writes the story of his life symbolically. A.E. Housman was born in England where he spent most of his life. He excelled in his studies but failed to achieve his degree due to depression and possibly had a nervous breakdown during his final examinations. Obviously, the poem talks about Jesus and his crucifixion. The fact that he is a carpenter’s son, and that he was hanged between two thieves proves it. But Housman wrote this poem from a secular perspective. Most of all, the regret that the son shows for not following in his father’s footsteps (remember, in olden times a son was destined to take over his father’s occupation) as a carpenter is not Biblical at all (Housman 5-9). In the poem, Housman entirely ignores the Biblical perspective of Jesus’ crucifixion, which shows that Housman was an Atheist. History shows that Housman was also homosexual which was punishable by death in the nineteenth century. This poem also shows that Housman viewed himself as the crucified Jesus regarding the persecution he faced due to his sexuality. Instead of being normal like everyone else, the carpenter’s son chose to die for love. In the poem, Housman places himself in the persona of Jesus. In saying “...had I but stayed `prenticed to my father’s trade,” Housman suggests that Jesus had feelings of regret right before he died. He uses the crucifixion of Jesus to particularly point out that Jesus died so that the people of earth could have everlasting life, and yet they shook their fists...
Cited: Textbook Source:
Housman, Alfred E. “The Carpenter’s Son.” Literature for Composition. Pearson, 2011.
Web Article (Biography):
“A.E. Housman,” Poet’s Corner. Exploring Poetry - Gale. Web.
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