To an Athlete Dying Young Poetry Analysis

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Sydney Walcher
Instructor, Lisa Ward
English 1213
8 April 2013
To an Athlete Dying Young
A.E. Housman was a poet born in 1859 who became very successful during his lifetime. “To an Athlete Dying Young” represents the theme of glory is fleeting by illustrating the point that if a successful athlete dies young, they will not have to worry about their glory of victory fading. They can rest in peace knowing they will be remembered at their athletic peak when they were successful and victorious. They will not have to go through the pain of watching their fame disappear or whither out with time. In this poetic masterpiece, Housman pulls together figurative language, sound devices, and structure to illustrate that glory is fleeting through a majestic poem that will be remembered for many years.

Figurative language consists of many different devices including metaphors and similes which are often used in poetry like “To an Athlete Dying Young.” Metaphors compare unlike things but does not use like or as, the comparison is implied. Some metaphors that stick out in “To an Athlete Dying Young” are the phrase “stiller town” which is a metaphor for a cemetery and the line “Eyes the shady night has shut” which metaphorically states that someone has died. Another device often used in Housman’s poem is similes, which compare unlike things while using like or as to make a direct comparison. Some examples like “It withers quicker than the rose” use than instead of the like or as which is commonly used for similes. Most, if not all, similes in this poem use this method. When contradictory terms are used consecutively they are called an oxymoron. The only line in this poem sticks out as an oxymoron is “silence sounds.”

Poems are usually known for rhyming, but not all do. Many poems use other sound devices such as alliteration and rhyme. “To an Athlete Dying Young” uses both of these devices throughout the poem. Alliteration is the similarity of the same letter or sound at...
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