Poetic Link: "To an Athlete Dying Young" and "Anthem for Doomed Youth"

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A Poetic Link
Poetry that is thematically linked is not an uncommon occurrence. Though written nearly twenty years apart, A.E. Housman’s “To an Athlete Dying Young”, and Wilfred Owen’s “Anthem for Doomed Youth”, are examples of how poems have similar themes. Though Housman’s work is about a young athlete that has passed, and Owen’s is about the death of young soldiers, they are linked by the theme of young death. Aside from their similar themes, these two works share many literary components.

Housman and Owen both share a use of iamb’s in their works. Houseman used them in the form of iambic tetrameter. “And home we brought you shoulder high” (4), is but one example of his many uses of this meter. Owen used iamb’s in the form of iambic pentameter. “And each slow dusk a drawing-down of blinds” (14). The meters used placed emphasis on the second syllable in each pair, but for each writer the meter used also helped set the tone for their work.

Owen and Housman also used similar literary devices in their pieces. Alliteration was use by both to help maintain the rhythm of their poems. In an “Anthem for Doomed Youth” Owen stated, “And each slow dusk a drawing-down of blinds” (14). Housman used alliteration in another form, “The fleet foot on the sill of shade” (22). In addition to the use of alliteration, each poet used personification in their works as well. In the line, “From fields where glory does not stay” (10), Housman gives the fields the human trait of glory. Owen personifies the guns of war to a group of angry humans in the line, “Only the monstrous anger of the guns” (2).

Another element that was used similarly in both poems was imagery. In Owen’s work he talks of, “The pallor of girls’ brows shall be their pall” (12). This line evokes images of those who mourned for the dying soldiers, specifically the women left behind. Housman uses imagery so the reader can see the glory of the runner. “And home we brought you shoulder-high” (4). But, Housman...
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