Alfred Edward Housman

(26 March 1859 – 30 April 1936 / Worcestershire)

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.

Submitted: Friday, January 03, 2003

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  • Rookie - 823 Points Sagnik Chakraborty (9/26/2014 2:43:00 PM)

    The poem raises a pertinent question, whether to fall in love and risk heartbreak, or keep love at bay and one's heart intact. I personally would go with Tennyson: Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all. (Report) Reply

  • Rookie Christopher Tye (7/6/2012 8:52:00 AM)

    I've always loved this poem since I first read it & George Butterworth's setting of the poem intensifies its already great beauty. (Report) Reply

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