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Terence, this is stupid stuff

Terence, this is stupid stuff

by A.E. Housman

Literature and Writing Theme

A big chunk of "Terence, this is stupid stuff" is about poetry and what it can do. In fact, that's how the whole thing gets rolling. Some (probably drunk) guy asks Terence, who's a poet, what the point of poetry (especially sad poetry) is. Terence spends the rest of the poem craftily, humorously, but steadily and (we say) convincingly telling him (and us) why we need sad poems.

Questions About Literature and Writing

  1. Does the first speaker in this poem have a point? Is serious art kind of a drag sometimes? Why do you think so?
  2. What's the point of comparing poetry to beer? Why does Terence spend so much time on that idea? 
  3. Is Terence the kind of guy you'd like to hang out with? Do his ideas about poetry make sense to you? What parts of the poem support your answer? 
  4. Does Terence think that poems can actually make us happy, or just a little less sad?

Chew on This

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

Terence compares poetry to beer in order to show us that, while life has many temporary pleasures, the joy of poetry is eternal. Poetry > beer.

Woah—the irony (and the genius) of this poem is that it argues for the importance of serious poetry, but much of the poem itself is light-hearted and entertaining.

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