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.
My favourite Housman lines as worn on a T-shirt in my book “The Northern Line to Shropshire”.
They are so resonant of Shropshire and of belonging and of loss and of the ramblings of an old man out of his time. But I always fail the poem, for I always read the “land of lost content” wrong. I seem unable to read it as content as in 'happy with one's lot'. I always read it as content as 'stuff we own'. In my book I turn this into a weak joke about losing stuff on my laptop.
So I am indebted to Christine Bleakley's ITV programme where she celebs around the counties of England. For I've just learned that in Craven Arms a very wise woman has opened a museum on the fripperies and oddments of a modern life and has called it, of course, The Land of Lost Content.