The concept of living and learning, is that an individual needs to live and make mistakes in order to learn and become wiser. Many people would acknowledge that they have learned more from the mistakes they have made then the advice they have received. This concept is demonstrated in A.E. Housman’s poem “When I Was One-and-Twenty.”
In this poem the speaker receives advice from a wise man on the topic of love. The speaker does not know the advice is true, until he experiences love for himself. Then he conceives how fatuous he was for not yielding to the advice he was given. A conceit, sentence structure, and repetition are used to convey the speaker’s thoughts and justify how advice, even from a wise man, can be diminutive compared to the lessons an individual can obtain from personal experiences.
The use of a conceit amid the advice given by the wise man allows the reader to metaphorically weigh their hearts against money and jewels. “Give crowns and pounds and guineas/ [b]ut not your heart away” (lines 3-4). In this line the man tells the speaker to relinquish all of his money before his heart. This line makes the heart seem as if could be purchased or sold. “The heart out of the bosom/[w]as never given in vain (lines 11-12). These lines reinforce the conceit by comparing the heart to a commodity. In the business world, if merchandise is given away, someone has compensate for the lose. In this situation the expenditure is “endless rue” (line 14). The man meant, if someone gives their heart away for nothing, they will regret it. The use of “paid” and “sold” in lines 13-14 also make the heart seem as if it were a commodity and further constructs the conceit.
The sentence structure is an imperative poetic element, it assists in emphasizing the advice being offered and the thoughts of the speaker. The two stanzas in this poem have tantamount structures. Both contain eight lines and follow a traditional ballad rhyme. In each stanza the wise man’s advice makes up the middle four lines. The speaker then uses the first and last two sentences in each stanza to convey his thoughts. In the beginning of...