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            Joseph Grijalva Section: 5


            When I Was One and Twenty Final CM


For some reason people seem to believe that teenagers think they know everything.  However, I would content that the matter is not that of confidence in our knowledge, rather we are just coming to a point in life where we feel free to defend what we believe.  However, we should not stop listening to our elders.  Like the young man in A.E. Housman’s poem, we often do not realize the validity of the advice we receive until it is too late to heed it.

            The poem appeals to me because it offers its advice about listening to our elders within the context of another set of advice.  Though many people might not be so keen on always listening to the advice of their elder’s in all situations, most people are fairly happy for advice in matters of love.  Here we encounter the true creativeness of the poem.  Though the main message seems to try to convince young people not to be hasty in matters of love, this message might only serve to capture the attention of the reader.  When the reader notices that the wise man was right in warning the young man in the poem, the reader will also know that it is right to trust in the advice of one’s elders. 

            This poem is valuable because it attempts to allow young people such as myself to circumvent the standard trial and error way of learning.  Unfortunately, it can be hard for someone to admit we they wrong and someone else is right until the person has been proven to be correct.  This lesson is part of the irony of life.  Many times in life we do not see the correct path to take until it is too late for us to do so.  As my mom often says, “Hindsight is always twenty-twenty.”


XIII. "When I was one-and-twenty..."
by A. E. Housman (1859-1936)

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.