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In the poem When I Was One-And-Twenty, by A. E. Housman, the author begins by creating the setting around when he was twenty-one and how he had heard something from an older and wiser man. The wise man tells the author, “Give crowns and pounds and guineas, but not your heart away” (3-4). The meaning of the man’s words is that you can give away your money, but never give away your heart at such an early age. In the second stanza, he says increases the amount, saying to give pearls and rubies away, but to keep your fancy free.
The next lines of the stanza says, “But I was one-and-twenty, no use to talk to me” (7-8). It is clear through these two lines alone that he is now speaking from a later period of his life, and that he never took the old man advice. The first four lines of the last stanza are quoting the old wise man for a third time.
For a third time, he is being reminded not to give his heart away, and that it should never be given in vain. It then states that he would lose his heart by paying with “sighs a plenty, and sold for ndless rue” (13-14).
The third stanza seems to be a more elaborate warning, stating that giving away your heart will cost a lot more than any money he could ever accumulate. It also warns that if he gives away his heart on a whim, he will most likely be regretting it in the end.
The last two lines say, “And I am two-and-twenty, and oh, ‘tis true, ‘tis true” (15-16). This is the author speaking now from when he was twenty-two and has realized that he should have taking the wise man’s advice.
The man who has given the advice to the author has clearly been hurt deeply by someone in the past and is definitely not unwise to warn the narrator about giving his heart away. This advice should be given to everyone at least once, because if you give away your heart so easily, the chances of getting emotionally hurt is greater. A lot of younger individuals do this and is definitely seen a lot in high school and college years. People will believe they are with the love of their lives and could not see being with anyone else, until the day that they move on, and you’re left behind in depression and regret.
It is never easy to shake and it takes time to recover, and the old wise man from the poem see’s this and does not want the narrator to repeat his mistake, and the mistake many others will make. Before you completely give your heart away, you should know that the person you are giving it to is worth it and worth suffering for if things do not work out. Overall this is a pretty good poem for someone who is younger and are on the search for love and companionship.
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