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When I was one-and-twenty Analysis



Author: Poetry of Alfred Edward Housman Type: Poetry Views: 3772



WHEN I was one-and-twenty
I heard a wise man say,
?Give crowns and pounds and guineas
But not your heart away;

Give pearls away and rubies
But keep your fancy free.?
But I was one-and-twenty,
No use to talk to me.

When I was one-and-twenty
I heard him say again,
?The heart out of the bosom
Was never given in vain;
?Tis paid with sighs a plenty
And sold for endless rue.?
And I am two-and-twenty,
And oh, ?tis true, ?tis true.

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||| Analysis | Critique | Overview Below |||




.: :.

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| Posted on 2012-10-05 | by a guest


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if you have not experienced love or if you are in love and read this poem you may think that he is joking or he is telling an unreal story but those who have had failure in their love ,like me,understand what he says.he says that love has no meaning and as soon as you fall in love you should prepare yourself for suffering.he is so pessimistic toward love. Most probably he has had a bad experience and wants to share his experience with the reader.The poet belives that falling in love is just wasting your energy and youth while you can use it in a better way.And i have a suggestion for those who are on the verge of falling in love.Although love is not compatible with rationality but first be rational and sensible then fall in love in this way at least you will suffer less.

| Posted on 2012-03-15 | by a guest


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This poem is so true, After i spen almost a month singing it for a compition i finally understud what it wa saying.

| Posted on 2012-02-21 | by a guest


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I believe that this poem is about a man who never gave his love (affections), but instead had given everything else. He never attained the affection of his beloved because he never gave his heart. Goes to show, when we learn to love-thats when we learn to not give our hearts away. Incredible poem.
Lance

| Posted on 2012-02-05 | by a guest


.: :.

this poem is really great!!! it shows different advices coming from a wise man. I think the wise man here is referring to a person that is full of wisdom...remember that it\'s better to seek an advice to man that\'s full of wisdom than to a clever/knowledgeable man because a wise man knows everything and his advice is based on his experiences, it\'s not just an idealistic point of view.
from the first stanza-\"give crown and pounds and guineas but not your heart away\", it means that you can give all material things but not your good personality because your personality makes you different & unique from the other.\"give pearls & rubies but keep your fancy free\", this lines pertains to the things that are very precious to each one of us & it says that we can give up those things but not our creativity because this is the only thing that we could be proud of...being artistic & creative are the basis of uniqueness.
the second stanza is also an advice from a wise man...but this is not referring to the material things that might ruin one\'s life. it\'s more of moral advices and there are lines that remind us how to deal with our emotions & id. \" The heart out of the bosom was never given in vain: \'Tis paid with sighs a plenty and sold for endless rue.\" - Meaning, a life that is full of pretentious, secrets and envious is worthless because for sure it will just end in grief & sorrows. we should live our lives to the fullest but not to the extent that we violate the rights of others.
jmr(^0^)/

| Posted on 2011-02-10 | by a guest


.: :.

this poem is really great!!! it shows different advices coming from a wise man. I think the wise man here is referring to a person that is full of wisdom...remember that it\'s better to seek an advice to man that\'s full of wisdom than to a clever/knowledgeable man because a wise man knows everything and his advice is based on his experiences, it\'s not just an idealistic point of view.
from the first stanza-\"give crown and pounds and guineas but not your heart away\", it means that you can give all material things but not your good personality because your personality makes you different & unique from the other.\"give pearls & rubies but keep your fancy free\", this lines pertains to the things that are very precious to each one of us & it says that we can give up those things but not our creativity because this is the only thing that we could be proud of...being artistic & creative are the basis of uniqueness.
the second stanza is also an advice from a wise man...but this is not referring to the material things that might ruin one\'s life. it\'s more of moral advices and there are lines that remind us how to deal with our emotions & id. \" The heart out of the bosom was never given in vain: \'Tis paid with sighs a plenty and sold for endless rue.\" - Meaning, a life that is full of pretentious, secrets and envious is worthless because for sure it will just end in grief & sorrows. we should live our lives to the fullest but not to the extent that we violate the rights of others.
jmr(^0^)/

| Posted on 2011-02-10 | by a guest


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I liked this poem! I heard it on the old \"Titanic\" movie with Clifton Webb, Robert Wagner and Barbara Stanwyck. Nice!

| Posted on 2010-09-07 | by a guest


.: :.

I liked this poem! I heard it on the old \"Titanic\" movie with Clifton Webb, Robert Wagner and Barbara Stanwyck. Nice!

| Posted on 2010-09-07 | by a guest


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Who is the wise man? I think the wise man has also undergone the same love's experience. No one can be wise without "rue."

| Posted on 2010-05-03 | by a guest


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As I look back upon my life, I can reflect upon the many times that I gave my heart away to many different women who were objects of my affection. Each time my heart was given with hope that a life together would be the result. But, in all cases except the last did I suffer the pain of unrequited love. As one speaker remarked, falling in love several times is like stepping stones to the one true love that we enventually end up with for life. We know we have found the right one when we commit to settling down and raising a family, fulfilling careers and planning for the success of the next generation. Retirement which comes with old age is the reward for a life well spent with a loving partner.

| Posted on 2010-04-20 | by a guest


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I first heard this poem when I was two-and-ten. It was recited by Donald Pleasance in an episode of the Twilight Zone called "Changing Of The Guard". And though I am now beyond two-and-twenty it has stayed with me lo these many years. Although I would not number Housman among my top ten favourite poets, I certainly number this particular poem among my top ten favourite poems.

| Posted on 2010-04-11 | by a guest


.: :.

Man is predisposed culturally and psychologically to thinking himself more important than he really is. This is a poem about the excruciating lack of awareness and powerlessness of simple man.

| Posted on 2010-03-15 | by a guest


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What i got from this poem is that you maythink you know everything but you dont. You may think you'r ein love no matter what they trell you and you will ignore their comments and advice until one day you realize they were saying the truth...

| Posted on 2010-02-27 | by a guest


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"Take a chance with love" and it may take away what little common sense you had and then you forget what your passion in life was then you don't contribute to society and then you're no longer worth anything.

| Posted on 2010-02-10 | by a guest


.: :.

when someone or somebody gives you a lesson and an advice we must give an importance for it.;;

| Posted on 2010-01-12 | by a guest


.: :.

when someone or somebody gives you a lesson and an advice we must give an importance for it.;;

| Posted on 2010-01-12 | by a guest


.: :.

when someone or somebody gives you a lesson and an advice we must give an importance for it.;;

| Posted on 2010-01-12 | by a guest


.: :.

when someone or somebody gives you a lesson and an advice we must give an importance for it.;;

| Posted on 2010-01-12 | by a guest


.: :.

when someone or somebody gives you a lesson and an advice we must give an importance for it.;;

| Posted on 2010-01-12 | by a guest


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This poem..I do not agree with. If you never take a chance to fall in love, you will never find your true love. It may not always work out in the end, but one day, one of the chances you take will work out, and the other chances were just stepping stones to fnding the one you love,

| Posted on 2009-12-08 | by a guest


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It is saying that the heart wasn't just given away for free. You pay for it in sighs, whether in frustration, longing, or woe it doesn't specify, and in regret of what has happened or in sorrow (rue).

| Posted on 2009-10-23 | by a guest


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exaplain what the wise man meant when he said that a heart is sold for endless rue.

| Posted on 2009-10-22 | by a guest


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i think that this poem is stating that u should think about what u are doing in life before acting. it could end up not the way u wanted it.

| Posted on 2009-09-23 | by a guest


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I have loved this poem all of my life. You guys are nuts trying to analisis this. You need to get a life. Write something yourself that stands up to time..

| Posted on 2009-07-26 | by a guest


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men! this poem so dumb! it is just like robert frost!
both of them are criminals and rapistS!!! wah!!! but dont worry.. i killed them both already.. hahahaha!!!!
long live rock and roll!!!

| Posted on 2009-07-26 | by a guest


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Moral lesson? If an elder gives you an advise don't ignore it.

| Posted on 2009-02-02 | by a guest


.: An Analysis :.

“When I was One-and-Twenty” begins with the speaker, a self- proclaimed twenty one year old man: “When I was one-and-twenty” (line 1) recounting the advice given to him from an older man: “I heard a wise man say” (line 2.) Housman’s use of “one-and-twenty” instead of twenty- one contributes to the lyrical style of the poem. The alternating lines of 7 syllables with lines of 6 syllables again furthers the rhythmic feel, as well as the assonance in line 3: “Give crowns and pounds and guineas,” and the alliteration in line 6: “But keep your fancy free.”
The speaker of the poem goes on to recount the advice given to him by the wise man: “Give crowns and pounds and guineas, / but not your heart away; / Give pearls away and rubies / But keep your fancy free” (line 3-6.) The advice the speaker is given is to give away almost anything, with “crowns and pounds and guineas,” and “pearls and rubies” symbolizing any material object, before he gives away his heart/love. The speaker’s use of “but” in “But I was one-and-twenty, / No use to talk to me” denotes his realization of his youthfulness, thus foreshadowing a later fact.
The second stanza begins with a repetition of the first line of the poem, denoting that the second stanza will be a continuation of the ideas first presented in the first stanza. The second line of the second stanza: “I heard him say again” (line 10) substantiates this notion. This time the advice given, really is more of a statement of fact than advice. “The heart out of the bosom,” (line 11) -professed love, “Was never given in vain” (line12) –another foreshadow of possible events to come. “’Tis paid with sighs a plenty / And sold for endless rue” (line 13, 14) -the wise man is commenting on the nature of love. No love is without its trials, and nothing is harder to give away than one’s heart. The final two lines reveal the foreshadowed ironic event, that the speaker is now a year older and has thus found the value in the wise man’s advice, only too late. This admittance by the speaker alludes to the fact that he has given his heart away and now knows first hand the “sighs a plenty.”
The two stanzas work together as one to paint the picture of Housman’s idea of love, in such a compact and succinct verse. The subtle difference that sepereates the second stanza from that of the first serves two purposes. On one hand it works to give the reader a sense of slight change in time. The speaker hear’s the wise man on one occasion, and within the same general period of time hears him talk again. In the end of thpoem, the speaker has gained only a year and this subtle difference between the stanzas seems to show that. The other way in which the stanzas work is how they go beyond the shift in time, and look at the speaker’s evolution in character. Both stanzas are very similar, talking of the same subject and using similar language. In the first stanza, the speaker (even admitingly to himself) comes off as a brash youth: “I was one-and-twenty, / No use to talk to me” (line 7, 8.) But in the second stanza, Housman makes it clear that with age the speaker has gained maturity and learned a valuable lesson about life and love: “I am two-and-twenty, / And oh, ‘tis true, ‘tis true” (line 15, 16.)
This poem is very succinct, with meaning that goes well beyond the actual words written. Housman’s use of money-language: “crowns, pounds, guineas, pearls, rubies, paid, and sold” all serve metaphorically towards the price each of us pays when gambling with love. The idea of money and currency is an interesting way to explain the trials of love. Overall, Housman’s “When I Was One-and-Twenty” is a comical verse about the futility of love, youth, experience, and the irony in living life.


| Posted on 2006-02-27 | by Approved Guest




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