When I was one and twenty – A. E. Housman

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.

A. E. Housman (1859 – 1936)

Here is another love poem in similar vein to my previous Coleridge Post made up of two eight line stanzas with rhyming scheme abcbcaaa / abcbadad and an easy flowing rhythm.

The advice from a wise man goes unheeded and youth must fall in love – falling is unavoidable … part of life … hopefully there is a getting up again without too many scars and the endless rue will eventually fade away. But ‘tis better to have loved’ than never loved at all’ which reminds me of a Tennyson poem.

The personal life for A. E. Housman, who had a dedicated and unrequited same sex love, was used to good effect in another poem. This time in a delightful poem by Wendy Cope who plays on this fact in relation to her, hopefully fictitious, choices of partners –

Another Unfortunate Choice

I think I am in love with A E Housman.
Which puts me in a worse than usual fix.
No woman ever stood a chance with Houseman
And he’s been dead since 1936.

Wendy Cope (1945 –

‘worse than usual fix’ – implying that previous choices for a partner have led to a degree of disappointment for one reason or another.

A link to A. E. Housman on Wikipedia 

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