Contrast Essay: "To An Athlete Dying Young" vs. "Ex-Basketball Player"
“To An Athlete Dying Young” and “Ex-Basketball Player” share the lives of two very different athletes. Both experience success in their lives, but one dies with his glory while the other lives past his days of glory and works at a gas pump where he is not recognized. The poems discuss the importance of having glory and keeping that glory as long as possible. Through the poems the readers learn the benefits of dying young as well as the consequences of living after one's glory has faded. Where Houseman glorifies the athlete for his achievements and early death, Updike portrays the disappointment of the athlete living past his days of glory and not reaching high standards through out is life.
The glory of the athlete in “To An Athlete Dying Young” is portrayed as the speaker directly addresses the athlete while the speaker of “Ex-Basketball Player” tell the story of an athlete whose glory is fading. Housman’s speaker directly addresses the athlete through out the poem to give the athlete more encouragement and clearly indicate that it is better to die young. Through out the poem, the speaker stresses the benefits of dying young by addressing the athlete directly as well as showing his honor for the young dead athlete. The speaker knows that the athlete will not see his glory fade since he tells the athlete, “you will not swell the rout of lads who wore their honors out”(18). The word “you” puts great emphasis on the line and appeals more to the readers as it directly speaks to the athlete. Since the speaker directly addresses the athlete there is more satisfaction present in the readers. The readers know that the death of the athlete was for his own benefit as now he will be better remembered. While Housman’s speaker directly addresses the athlete to emphasize that dying young will help the athlete’s glory to survive, Updike’s speaker simply tells the life story of an athlete who has...
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