Alfred Edward Housman
An unpleasant event was about to happen. The hour was quite near against his desire. He stood and counted the quarter strike. It was four. He therefore cursed his luck because he could do nothing to protect himself from the unhappy thing. Then the clock gathered all its strength and struck eight.
Housman always looks at the dark side of life with muffled sadness and melancholy. In this poem, the protagonist is directly confronted with the consciousness of the running time when he is in the form of the tower. Time arouses the people in the morning. Every person feels he is limited in time. The protagonist here is aware, that is coming hear- his time of departure from the world. Time becomes stronger as a man becomes weaker in this world.
The man curses his luck of being a mortal man. Time gathers its maximum strength when it strikes human beings. Eight o’clock in the morning was his time to be struck. It is a rhymed poem with classical restraint of emotion, the word ‘struck’ signifies the striking sound of the clock and it also means the striking of the protagonist to death by the hand of time. The time is a never ending process. Nothing in this world exists forever. Everything falls into the cruel grip of time and melts forever. The protagonist also realizes this. He feels that he is limited in time. And he is aware that his deportation from this world is coming near. Every fifteen minutes the clock makes sound for men. Time becomes stronger as a man becomes weaker in this mortal world. So the protagonist curses his luck of being a mortal man.
The poem might be trying to tell us the feeling of the person who is going to face a terrible thing. At that moment he is so much conscious of time. To him every second is important. He lives every second restlessly being conscious of every moment. He may be going to be hanged or he may be undergoing a terrible experience.
Housman’s ‘Eight O’clock’ is an alliterative poem. The poem moves rhythmically towards the climax. It is a rhymed poem with classical restraint of emotion with chosen symbols and phrases. The alliteration begins in the first line and ends in the last. ‘Stool’, ‘steeple’, ‘sprinkle’, ‘strapped’, ‘cursed’, ‘strength’ and ‘struck’ make for a satisfying musical pattern. ‘Struck’ signifies the ticking sound of the clock, and it also signifies the striking of the protagonist to death by the hand of time. It is a classically finished poem, free from the usual sentimentalism of Housman’s time. In texture and austerity it is nearer to metaphysical poetry.
Biography of Alfred Edward Housman