An Athlete Dying Young By E. Housman Essay examples

1096 Words Oct 13th, 2015 5 Pages
“To An Athlete Dying Young” was written by A. E. Housman in 1896. Houseman wrote during the Modernist period. This period was characterized by a the breaking of traditional ideas, that there is no absolute truth, and are usually concerned with the subconscious. “To An Athlete Dying Young” was written to the dead athlete, but almost seems to speak to the reader as well, reminding him or her of the futility of life. Surprisingly, the speaker does not mourn the runner’s death. instead he sees the positive side of dying in the prime of life.

The poem begins on a positive note, as the speaker recalls the runner’s big victory, winning a race as the representative for his town. He speaks of how they carried him through town and brought him home on their shoulders, as every man and boy in the town cheered for him. The setting then shifts to a much more dismal moment. The speaker is now a pall-bearer, carrying the athlete shoulder-high once more, but this time in a casket. This reveals that the speaker was most likely a close friend of the young man. The dead boy is now “townsman of a stiller town,”(Houseman 8) a town called Death. They “set him at his threshold down,”(Houseman 7) which indicates that they set his casket beside his open grave. The speaker then addresses the athlete again. “Smart lad, to slip betimes away from fields where glory does not stay” (Houseman 9-10). He then uses a laurel withering quicker than a rose as a depiction of the short-lived nature of fame.…

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