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A.E. Housman Essay Sample

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  • Pages: 4
  • Word count: 1,066
  • Rewriting Possibility: 99% (excellent)
  • Category: poetry

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Introduction of TOPIC

Housman was born into a home in Worcestershire, England on March 26, 1859. Besides being the eldest of seven children, he grew up to be an excellent poet and “One of his country’s greatest Latinists” (Sullivan). Prior to becoming an atheist, Housman had to go through the loss of his mother on his twelfth birthday due to cancer. Years later he was awarded a scholarship to Oxford. During his college career, Housman realized he was gay and fell in love with a man named Moses Jackson whom was an influence in some of his poetry. Being known as “’the poet of unhappiness’” Housman died in his sleep on April 30, 1936 (Sullivan). A.E. Houseman sends a very important message in his poem “When I Was One-and-Twenty”. The narrators of the poem are a person of the age of twenty-one and an elderly man. Housman tells a story of a young man who comes across a wise man who told him advice that he didn’t take. It’s a story of how stubborn young people are and how you should always listen to the wise man because he is never wrong. In the beginning of the poem Housman tells the first lesson the wise man gave him. Houseman writes, 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”. (2-6)
From this passage one can interpret that the story that is being told is about love. Crowns, pounds, and guineas are another way of saying money, as well as pearls and rubies (Dictionary.com). What the wise man is saying is that oneself can give valuable things away, but don’t give away the most valuable thing, one’s heart. When the wise man says “Give pearls away and rubies/ But keep your fancy free” (5-6), he means give valuable things away but keep the high opinion of oneself for free. So in other words, show people no one else matters but oneself.

At the end of the first stanza, Housman writes, “But I was one-and-twenty, / No use to talk to me” (7-8). By this, Housman is saying that any twenty-one year old is in denial and blind to the consequences of love. It is to interpret that tryin

g to talk to a twenty-one year old is impossible because they are so in denial about everything that

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the words being said to them go through one ear and out the other.

In the second stanza of the poem, Housman talks about how the wise man had told him later on that even though love hurts, it’s still worth the pain. In this stanza Housman writes, 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.” (10-14)
In this passage, when the word bosom is used, in other words it means chest (Dictionary.com). There for he’s saying the heart out of the chest is supposed to be paid in love not disrespect and to cherish the heart because if one doesn’t, one will live in endless sorrow and regret.

Lastly, in the very last two lines of the poem Housman writes, “And I am two-and-twenty, / And oh, ‘tis true, ‘tis true” (15-16). In the last two lines one can interpret that as he got older and turned twenty-two, he realized that what the wise man had to say to him was actually true. He now knows this from experience of his own. All in all, the true lesson of this poem is to always listen to the elders whom tell you things because they will always be right no matter what.

In the poem “To an Athlete Dying Young” A.E. Housman tells a wonderful story of a young athlete whom died a young hero. Housman describes the significance of death and why it’s a beautiful thing rather than always being a sad thing. The poem also shows the significance of dying as a hero instead of a prior hero.

In the first and second stanza of the poem Housman describes the event that takes place after the victory of the race. The people of the town carried the boy in a chair shoulder high through the cheering crowd to his home. In the third stanza Housman writes, Smart lad, to slip betimes away

From fields where glory does not stay,
And early through the laurel grows
It withers quicker than the rose. (9-12)
From this passage, Housman is saying the boy is smart to slip away from the fame every once in a while because the fame will die quicker than a rose will wither. When Housman uses the word laurel, it’s another word for evergreen tree which is a symbol of victory (Dictionary.com). In the second to last stanza in the poem Housman writes, So set, before its echoes fade,

The fleet foot on the sill of shade,
And hold to the low lintel up
The still-defended challenge-cup. (21-24)
In this passage one can interpret that it’s better to die before your fame fades away. “So set, before its echoes fade,” (21) shows this because Housman is saying he’s set or in other words he’s gone before the echoes or fame fade.

Lastly, in the last stanza Housman sums up the poem by writing, And round that early-laurelled head
Will flock to gaze the strengthless dead,
And find unwithered on its curls
The garland briefer that a girl’s. (25-28)
From this one can interpret that Housman is saying around that young victory head one will find an unwithered garland around his lifeless head. In the end Housman is trying to get his point across that death isn’t always a sad thing, it can be a beautiful thing when someone has died in victory or is known for great things. That is because that person will never be forgotten for the victory he had won for his town.

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