Student or Learner
Would you tell me whether I am right with my interpretation of the expression in bold in the following sentence?
“I have perceived that Man is a spent rocket.” “You may be,” David retorted promptly, “but I’m not.” (Aldington’s “Rejected Guest”)
a spent rocket = a “star”/ celebrity sank in oblivion
Thank you for your efforts.
I'm not sure you are exactly right; whole you could use the phrase very pithily to describe a celebrity after the end of their career, once back in obscurity, it could also be applied to a much wider range of situations.
The basic meaning is anything where the "useful life" is over, anything where the purpose of the item is completed and all that remains is waste.
An example off the top of my head:
With the invention of the MP3 player, the cassette-playing Walkman became a spent rocket; having been an icon of its age, it faded into history and nowadays many children wouldn't even recognise the word.