Dr. John Allen
July 19, 2014
Although “To an Athlete Dying Young” by A.E. Housman and “Ex-Basketball Player” by John Updike are both about the reflection of honorary greatness achieved in their lives as athletes, the speakers possess different views and attitudes towards their characters in each poem. In “To an Athlete Dying Young” the speaker shares a positive reflection of the characters accomplishments that takes place due to the death of that character dying at a young age: “To-day, the road all runners come, / Shoulder-high we bring you home, /And set you at your threshold down, /Townsman of a stiller town.” (“Athlete”5-8). In “Ex-Basketball Player” John Updike speaker reflects upon Flick Webb’s past achievements in the as a high school basketball player: “Once Flick played for the high-school team, the Wizards / He was good: in fact, the best.” (“Ex-Basketball”13-14). Though the speaker praises Flick Webb’s on his past achievements as an athlete, the speaker sets a tone of a man that has not achieved much during his adult years: “He never learned a trade, he just sells gas, / Checks oil, and changes flats.” (“Ex-Basketball”19-20). The picture painted with words by the speaker in “To an Athlete Dying Young” portrays a story of an athlete receiving praise and honor for their life and accomplishments achieved. Housman’s speaker describes the early death of the deceased as: “Smart lad, to slip betimes away / From fields where glory does not stay” (“Athlete” 9-10). Throughout the poem, the speaker gives praised to the deceased by showing his appreciation and honor that he holds for young deceased athlete: “The time you won your town the race / We chaired you through the market-place; / Man and boy stood cheering by, (“Athlete”1-3). “Now you will not swell the rout / Of lads that wore their honors out,” (“Athlete”17-18). The speaker positively reminisces about the athlete life and accomplishments. The speaker’s words paint...
Please join StudyMode to read the full document