Life – A Twenty-One Year Old Analysis

While different ages are momentous in the United States, when a person turns twenty-one it seems as if the person is definitely ready to enter the real world. A twenty-one year old step’s into the real world of grownups, accounting, and a legal drinking limit. A twenty first birthday is very special, as is someone’s sixteenth and eighteenth birthday.

Both poems by Samuel Johnson and A. E. Housman demonstrate a person turning twenty-one, but both poems demonstrate different views on how the speaker and the audience feel. To Sir John Lade, on His Coming of Age” is about the speaker telling his audience on how he feels about finally turning twenty-one. “When I Was One-and-Twenty” describes a young adult listening to an elder or someone they look up too about their new age. Both of these poems have a condescending or rude tone while they either talk or listen to the advice that they are given. In “To Sir John Lade, on His Coming of Age” Johnson has a cheerful and carefree use of tone to describe the things he would like to do since he is twenty-one.

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The subject of this poem is often compared to the carefree bird that flies, swirls, and wander with a care in the world. However the people that often have a carefree attitude often are preyed upon. In line 13 “All that prey on vice and folly” is describing how these type of people are usually pushed aside. The speaker pushes these feelings aside while talking about pockets filled high in line twenty-one and telling the reader to not listen to anyone about their spending.

This poem reflects how a twenty-one year old can be too carefree and spend too much money. This poem is a good example of Carpe Diem, and Johnson emphasizes his point of seize the day when you turn twenty-one. In “When I was One-and-Twenty” by A. E. Housman, Housman the tone is calm and collected. The speaker realizes his mistake as the poem goes on by the elders advice. In the first stanza the speaker is listening to the wise elder talking and realizes his naive approach of looking at things. The speaker is asking the elder for advice.

In the second stanza the speaker realizes his mistakes, and listens to the elders advice. The speaker realizes his past ignorance and gains more intelligence by realizing that he must grow up since he is now twenty-one. Although the speaker is saying all these things about him growing up there is a sense that the speaker is playing the audience into making us believe he has, but that is some owns opinion. But at the end of the poem the speaker realizes his own regret, and he now appeals to the readers emotions.

The overall tone of this poem is remorseful and reflective. Both poems by Johnson and Housman have reflecting advice on turning twenty-one. “To Sir John Lade.. ” is certainly more playful and ruthless about how they feel about turning twenty-one. “When I was One-and-Twenty” is more uplifting and remorseful because the speaker realizes his childish behavior and decides that he wants to make a change after speaking to the elder. Both poems are true, but Housman does a better job with reflecting how a person turning twenty-one should think or act.

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Life – A Twenty-One Year Old Analysis. (2017, Jan 19). Retrieved from