To An Athele Dying Young Essay Research

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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