...back in action after a much-needed vacation...
(Poem #86) When I Was One-and-Twenty
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.
There are some poems which should not be analysed to death, just read out loud for the sheer joy of reading. This is one of them. Critics over the years have had a field day with Housman's work, often going completely off the deep end about his morbidity, his sexual orientation, his atheism, his fragile psychological makeup and so on, but for me his poems can stand alone on the strength of their beauty and simplicity. If you *really* want to read more about Housman's work in general and this poem in particular, you can visit http://www.gale.com/gale/poetry/housmbio.html thomas.