Thursday, December 2, 2010

Elf Practice

Try this on for size:

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 and two-and-twenty,
And on, ‘tis true, ‘tis true.

That’s the entirety of A. E. Houseman’s poem “When I was One-and-Twenty,” which I suppose is comic in a way, but neither this one nor the other that Louis Untermeyer presents – “Oh, See How Thick the Goldcup Flowers,” is really all that ha-ha hilarious. Maybe it’s just me. Maybe I’m just in a bad mood writing this. But I’ve read the poems several times and while they may elicit a smile, they certainly don’t hit the Elf Practice level of hilarity (you know, Elf Practice, learning how to chuckle and go ‘hee hee’ and ‘ho ho’ and wiggle your ears, important stuff like that).

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