I’m reading Norman Page’s biography of Housman at the moment and I reached a quotation of the poet:

‘Existence is not itself a good thing that we should spend a lifetime securing its necessities: a life spent, however victoriously, in securing the necessaries of life is no more than an elaborate furnishing and decoration of apartments for the reception of a guest who is never to come.’

There’s a big temptation to see life and happiness as something we’re working towards. It’s exactly what I’m trying to cure myself of – the temptation to get my life ‘in order’ (as if anyone can ever do that!) so that I can concentrate on doing what i love.

But maybe our lives are just elaborately furnished rooms with no guests if we don’t turn our attention to what it is that makes us dance.

In her Oscar acceptance speech, Julianne Moore said words to the effect that glittering prizes were wonderful, but what mattered was the work.

She meant creative work of whatever type, colour, shape. The sport, the painting, the words, the theatre, the research, the adventure, the design. Whatever it is.

But the thing that makes us feel that we’re really living.

Without it, we’re just alone in a tidy room.

For more information about A.E.Housman click the links below:


Poetry Foundation page