Essay about Leaving at the Peak of Glory

551 Words 3 Pages
Most believe dying young is one of the greatest tragedies life holds. However, in the poem “To An Athlete Dying Young”, author A.E. Housman contradicts those beliefs. Housman uses the character of an athlete dying in the earlier stages of life to demonstrate the pros of dying at the peak of one’s glory. He does so by presenting this through the eyes of a speaker with a pessimistic view of life. Although a sad reality, according to the speaker of the poem, dying young is not as bad as it is naturally perceived. The speaker tries to make the most of the situation by explaining that the athlete is a, “smart lad to slip betimes away” (3). In saying so, the speaker implies that rather than death in youth being a sad and …show more content…
In addition, the speaker adds that, “silence is no worse than cheers” (15). In exclaiming such a phrase, the idea is expressed that the athlete passed hearing the cheers of his accomplishments and now, being dead, everything is silent. However, this does not matter because he died with a positive atmosphere surrounding himself- that is the legacy and memory that he will carry with him into the darkness of the grounds in which he lie. Housman uses a cynical speaker to portray the advantages of a young death. To the speaker, being forgotten could be the worst thing that can happen to man saying, "Now you will not swell the rout / Of lads that wore their honors out” (17-18). The speaker clearly envies the deceased that have died in such a manner. Perhaps he is also jealous of the athletes successes. Overall, he is jealous that the athlete did not have to suffer seeing his record being defeated and surpassed. Furthermore, the speaker equates the athletes fame to a laurel. By doing so, he is emphasizing the fact that the reign of ones glory, “withers quicker than a rose” (12). Recognition only persists for a limited time, and the athlete was lucky enough to be alive to experience such a thrill and die before it came to a halt. It is a shame to be a greatly recognized and celebrated at one point in time but outranked by another at some time else in your lifespan because from then on out, well, defeated fits such a classification. Dying young

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