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Terence, this is stupid stuff

Terence, this is stupid stuff


by A.E. Housman

Terence, this is stupid stuff Theme of Happiness

Even though Terence is mostly focused on sad times in "Terence, this is stupid stuff," he does talk about happiness too. He remembers times when he had fun, and even tells a few little jokes (not, knee-slappers, exactly, but still jokes). So he's not a total sourpuss. Most of the time, though, the happiness that we find in this poem is mixed with a little bit of uncertainty or uneasiness—with just a hint of anxiety thrown in for good measure. Happiness, for Terence, tends to be temporary and unreliable. It's sadness that's here to stay. Yay?

Questions About Happiness

  1. Is there any really meaningful happiness in this poem? If so, where do you see it?
  2. Does Terence sound like a happy guy to you? Are there moments where he seems more cheerful than others? Which moments are they?
  3. Is the happiness of drinking beer anything like the happiness of reading a poem? How does the poem make them seem similar or separate them?

Chew on This

Try on an opinion or two, start a debate, or play the devil’s advocate.

The poem gives us many examples of happiness (being drunk, joking with friends, conquering your enemies). In the end, though, it is only the sort of grim happiness that comes from confronting sadness that can last. So quit IM'ing and put down that beer.

The real happiness in this poem comes from survival (not Survivor). If you live to be old, like Mithridates, then you can call yourself truly happy, at least according to Terence.

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