To An Athele Dying Young Essay Research

To An Athele Dying Young Essay, Research Paper

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. I believe it is 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.? To comprehend this, you must first know

what a laurel is. In ancient times, it was 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. Now that we know what a laurel is, we can now understand the full

effect of lines eleven and twelve. 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 thoughts, you start to get a glimpse of what his life may have

been since his youth: his own records broken, his skills diminished, his name

forgotten. Instead of being a poem about the death of the athlete, the poem

becomes a statement about the life of the speaker. In line eighteen, as one of

?the lads who wore their honors out,? the speaker seems to be also mourning

his own personal demise as a star athlete. Now that we have postulated who the

speaker is and all of his thoughts, we can now determine where the poem is

occurring. I believe it is taking place at a funeral or some sort of funeral

procession. The speaker seems to be observing the deceased athlete, so he must

be on display in some manner. Also, the poem is about an athlete in a small

town. The entire community is stricken with grief and is mourning the loss

together. This is evident in lines five and six: ?Today, the road all runners

come, Shoulder-high we bring you home…? Line five shows us that everyone is

coming to the funeral, even his competitors and the other runners. Also, the use

of ?we? is a signal of the entire community gathering to honor the young

lad. They were together in celebration of his victory and now are together in

mourning his death. The tone of To an Athlete Dying Young is definitely one that

many will remember after reading it. The first stanza tells about the past

accomplishments and celebrations of the athlete. ?The time you won your town

the race? shows his success in the past. The tone starts out to be one of

pride for the athlete, but soon it changes to a very melancholy and solemn one.

The next three stanzas are very depressing and tell of a young man who?s

?Eyes the shady night has shut.? The final stanzas are perhaps the most

dreary of all. They look to the future, a future of things undone, a life

unlived, and a young man dead too soon. The tone of the story is very poignant

and one that cannot easily be shaken from memory. The tone may be a very

depressing one, but the theme is even more piercing. The theme of To an Athlete

Dying Young is not apparent after one reading. I gave it much thought and have

come to one eerie conclusion; the speaker is viewing the premature death in a

positive light. To most, that is a terrible or even sinful thing to contemplate,

but it is indeed what the speaker is conveying. The theme of this poem is that

it is better to die as a young champion than to grow old and be forgotten by all

those who surpass your one-time greatness. He calls the dead athlete a ?smart

lad? for dying as a champion and not remaining in the ?fields where glory

does not stay.? He then compares early death to growing old and being

forgotten in the lines ?And silence sounds no worse than cheers After earth

has stopped the ears.? That is a very powerful statement. The speaker honestly

believes that it is just as well to die young and be praised as it is to live

out the rest of your life and be forgotten. The line ?Runners whom renown

outran? also indicates the theme. That line conveys the message that the fame

and glory is only temporary, and it is better to perish before ?the name died

before the man.? The last two stanzas paint a picture that the death was a

type of victory for the athlete. He died without the taste of defeat; he died a

champion. The theme may be rather ugly, but it is one that many people can

understand. I thought this was an outstanding poem, and its theme was very

touching to me. I am in my final year of athletic competition on the soccer

field. When I am done, I must grow old and live with the fact that someone is

better than me; someone has elevated past my victories and is now in my

spotlight. It is definitely a tough pill to swallow. I can sympathize with the

speaker as I too will be in his shoes someday. The poem To an Athlete Dying

Young is a very meaningful piece of poetry. To an Athlete Dying Young by A. E.

Housman The time you won your town the race We chaired you through the market

place; Man and boy stood cheering by, And home we brought you shoulder-high.

Today, the road all runners come, Shoulder-high we bring you home, And set you

at your threshold down, Townsman of a stiller town. Smart lad, to slip betimes

away From fields where glory does not stay And early though the laurel grows It

withers quicker than a rose. Eyes the shady night has shut Cannot see the record

cut, And silence sounds no worse than cheers After earth has stopped the ears:

Now you will not swell the rout Of lads that wore their honors out, Runners whom

renown outran And the name died before the man. So set, before its echoes fade,

The fleet foot on the sill of shade, And hold to the low lintel up The still

defended challenge cup. And round that early laureled head Will flock to gaze

the strengthless dead And find unwithered on its curls The garland briefer than

a girl?s.