When I Was One-And-Twenty Essay, Research Paper
Everyone has their own appreciation of a poem, various from time to time and from place to place. However, their appreciation would be increasingly better when they find themselves similar, in some respects, to the I-speaker. The poem is considered as good one if the readers can recognized the true value of its theme as well as its figurative language through it the writer’s message is carried.
Fortunately, “When I was one-and-twenty” of A.E Housman is constituted by such factors. It is hard for any reader to catch the writer’s purpose and them if they read it once or twice. I cannot agree more that the more we read this poem the more interest it brings to us.
At the first time reading, “When I was one-and-twenty” left us no special impression but the burning curiosity for its repeated title. Such very good burning curiosity inspired us to read it more carefully and patiently. Finally, we happily enjoyed the poem’s theme and meaning as well as the poet’s talented skills of using internal figurative language and musical devices.
What a wonderful chance to be assigned this poem! Coincidentally, most of us are twenty-one years old. That’s why we are very interested in reading and commenting this poem. Perhaps, some one may not perceive its value if they are not experienced the age of twenty-one and twenty-two. So it’s our privilege the state of being “one-and-twenty” now.
This poem simply consists of the wise man’s advice and the I-speaker internal conflict to such advice. The repeated title opens the 1st stanza attractively. Seemingly, we consider ourselves as the I-speaker because we are now “one-and-twenty”. It’s very interesting to find the similarity between the writer and the readers. Really do we want to know what happens to the I-speaker when he was “one-and-twenty”. Nothing unexpecting happens like the wise man’s advice. It is rather a surprise to us when Housman uses the images of money “crowns”, “pounds”, “guineas” in his poem. The practical symbolic words used in the poem makes us unexpectedly interested just because this is our first time to the correlation of the practical and the poetic.
He advised the young man, the I-speaker, not to fall in love. How can the young man force himself to stop falling in love? If I were that young man, I would rather say no to the wise man’s advice. Such attitude is also the evidence to show that the young are usually spontaneous, foolish and overconfident. If we have no opportunity to read this poem we hardly accept our mistakes of being overconfident. How about the I-speaker’s response?
“But I was one-and-twenty
No use to talk to me”
Yeah, the young man and the young in common, are young and foolish. He is probably already in love or wanting to fall in love too strongly to accept the advice. That’s why he is in no mood to listen to the wise advice.
However, if the readers put themselves in the status of the young man with the right psychology, desire and way of thinking, it would be right the young man’s saying. At such age, the young must or have to fall in love for the sake of finding their another half. It’s a very truth no one can deny. The stronger his love feeling is, the harder for anyone to force him stop loving. Why the wise man advised him “But not your heart away”, “But keep your fancy free”. Probably, the wise man doesn’t want the young man to waste his time and strong ambition for love but for other useful things. Is the wise man inexperienced and practical to tell the young man not to fall in love? Let’s examine the next stanza and you will see what happens to the young man and the wise man.
It’s obvious that the wise man wants to advise the I-speaker not to fall in love because all he may receive is just the long bitter disappointment. Ironically, at the first stanza, the young man strongly disapproved the advice because of his immature and fool, but it comes to the last stanza that a year later, when he is in his age of two-and-twenty, instead of one-and-twenty, he remembers again and he can’t force himself to disagree with the words of wise man. However, what happens to make the man realize that the wise man’s words are true? The answer is that the young man’s romance has ended and he has discovered himself that love is paid for by “sighs-a-plenty”.
The above-mentioned thing is our agreement on understanding the poem. But as the first beginning sentence of this comment everyone has their own appreciation and understanding of the poem. The strongly excited discussion happens to our group that we really appreciate and spend more time satisfying ourselves in understanding the sentence “But keep your fancy free”. As defined, the word “fancy” has the meaning of “imagination, illusion or delusion”. How can a young man keep his fancy free without the permission of falling in love while he is at the age of dreaming, dropping with emotions, etc.
Here, in the stream of I-speaker’s consciousness, what the young people should do whatever worth doing in their minds, they should keep on dreaming, imagining and desiring to satisfy your age’s strongly ambitious will. They should not be involved in material things sometimes unluckily destroy their will of life. In other words, they must respect and cherish their youth, only this moment of time young people can dream and have idealistic view of life. Ever is youth more precious than money and anything else. They must, therefor, take advantage of their precious period if not they would regret some day. But the wise man advice seems insignificant to the I-speaker “No use to talk to me”. He seems too young to see how truthful is the advice.
Shortly speaking, after reading the poem carefully, our hearts have filled with impressive emotions and we study a good lesson.