'to an Athlete Dying Young

Topics: Death, Life, Afterlife Pages: 3 (1239 words) Published: June 24, 2012
Mark Twain once said, "The fear of death follows from the fear of life. A man who lives fully is prepared to die at any time." A.E. Houseman, in the tragic poem “'To an Athlete Dying Young," examines the themes of youth and premature death. The poem addresses a young runner who epitomized glory by winning a race and earning the heart of his townsmen. The triumph of the youth's winning of a race is matched by the ironic triumph of his death. The usage of metaphoric language, imagery, sophisticated literature, and rhyming couplets created a complex poem that obtains these subjective themes. The effectiveness of the poem contributes to the overall purpose Housman was trying to propose, for the speaker of the poem examines how the individual in the poem lived as a champion, and died as a legend. In addition, "To An Athlete Dying Young," challenges traditional perspectives on death, for Housman suggests it's better for people to die at the height of their glory, than to die later on and be forgotten. To an Athlete Dying Young by A. E. Housman is a piece about one of the most tragic fates. That fate, of course, is dying at a young age. The first thing that must be determined is who is telling the poem. The speaker is believed to be an older man, one who had been a champion of sorts in his younger days. He seems to know and understand what the athlete had felt and what would have become of him. Lines eleven and twelve are good examples that show that the speaker has had some experience with success. The lines read, “And early though the laurel grows It withers quicker than a rose.” n ancient times, laurel is a type of decorative wreath made for distinguished and honored people. The athlete never actually had one of these, as the word laurel is only used to convey how proud the townspeople were of the young athlete. The speaker is perhaps saying that the glory and praise of being a winner will fade very quickly, as it did with him. Through the speaker’s...
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