A. E. Housman's To An Athlete Dying Young

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On July 27, 1993, Boston’s Celtics player, Reggie Lewis suffered sudden cardiac death on a basketball court at Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts. The young athlete was only 27 years old. He left behind a legacy averaging 20.8 points per game and 17.6 points per contest. To an average person the loss of life at such a young age would cause discomfort and sorrow, but to A.E Housman, an English acclaimed scholar and poet, he believed dying at the peek of one’s career had its benefits. In 1896, A.E Housman wrote “To An Athlete Dying Young” – a lyric poem and elegy, written in AABB rhyme scheme, which offered the positive attributes of a successful athlete dying young. The poem is written in a basic rhyme in which every two lines rhyme.…show more content…
The example resembles the motions a runner makes while competing in a race. The speaker further labels the athlete “smart” in choosing to depart before his time for within his career-path, he states, “fame and glory do not last”. The author uses a sort of complexity to enhance what seems to be a simple poem in an interesting matter, formulating opposing images and symbols such as the laurel and rose. The speaker uses metaphors and symbolism to compare the athlete’s beginning stages as victorious and dignified like the laurels given to those held to high-esteem, like how the previous Roman Gods used to wear. He uses consonance - “it withers quicker than the rose” - to suggest that had the athlete has not passed away, his talent and the accompanied-glory would have eventually vanished like the withering rose. Throughout these lines and the poem the narrator reacts to the boy as if he was still alive. He looks back on the boy’s life, bolstering him to be happy on what just happened, that it indeed is better to die young. The author talks about the boy’s fondest memory, on how the entire town celebrated his special victory. Today, the boy is joining the likes of many other runners. He can be settled and put at ease in his final stop, the
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