The Isle of Portland was published in Housman’s collection of 63 poems in A Shropshire Lad (1896). Housman self-published the book after being turned down by several publishers. Themes tend to focus on unrequited love, pastoral beauty, fleeting youth, grief, death, and patriotism.
The star-filled seas are smooth to-night
From France to England strown;
Black towers above the Portland light
The felon-quarried stone.
On yonder island, not to rise, Never to stir forth free, Far from his folk a dead lad lies That once was friends with me. Lie you easy, dream you light, And sleep you fast for aye; And luckier may you find the night Than ever you found the day.