"When I Was One And Twenty

Essay by PaperNerd ContributorHigh School, 12th grade March 2001

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Housman was an English poet and a Latin professor. He encountered conflicts during his years in Oxford in failing exams and inner crisis. To help him get over these conflicts, he wrote scholarly articles. As these became known, he became a Professor of Latin at the University of London, then at Cambridge University, where he retired. The only poetry collections he published were A Shropshire Lad and Last Poems. Most poems focused on the fact that life is short and ends badly.

The speaker is remembering words that a man he considered to be wise once said to him. He is recalling the man advising him to give anything away, except for his heart, thus suggesting it is better to be poor. The speaker knows that at twenty-one he didn't listen to other people's advice, as we call all probably relate to. At the end, the speaker realized that he should have listened to the man's advice.

Apparently he fell in love and got his heart broken. In reading the poem, we can tell the speaker is regretful for not listening to the wise man.

I really liked this poem and was able to relate. I receive advice from everyone around me. Sometimes I take it; sometimes I don't. I wonder if, when I get older, I will regret not listening to the older, wiser people in my life more