"Pass Me The Can, Lad; There's An End Of May"

Context: In his poem that begins "The chestnut casts his flambeaux," A. E. Housman uses May with all its delights at the height of the spring season to represent the pleasure and happiness that man is ever seeking. But happiness is elusive just as is youth. In the poem two young men look out of the tavern window onto the sudden storm that has spoiled their plans. There will be other spring seasons in the future "but then we shall be twenty-four." The two lads see their plight as that of humanity, because others "Have sat in taverns while the tempest hurled/ Their hopeful plans to emptiness . . ." One of the friends has his solution to existence: "Pass me the can, lad . . ." The opening stanza of the poem describes the sudden wresting away of the delights of spring:

The chestnut casts his flambeaux, and the flowers
Stream from the hawthorn on the wind away,
The doors clap to, the pane is blind with showers.
Pass me the can, lad; there's an end of May.