Analysis: To An Athlete Dying Young By A. E. Housman
One among the many well recognised poems of A. E. Housman is "To An Athlete Dying Young". The poem is an elegy mixed with antithesis to heighten the feeling of sympathy from the readers.
The detail of the poem is about an undisclosed athlete who died very young after few athletic victories. In the poem, it is seen that the same way the athlete was lifted "shoulder-high" during his victories was the same way he was lifted "shoulder-high" at his time of death. The poet is of the believe that to be showered with roses is better than to be worn with laurel; he also believes that the young athlete has made a very wise choice to have died very young when the eyes of the world was still on him, compared to those that outgrow their honours and watch their fame die before their eyes.
Except for the last stanza, the poem has five lines for each stanza and with clear end rhyme pattern of AABBCCDD. The comparison between dying young with fame and dying old with faded fame preoccupied Housman and made him write or compose the poem in a praise tone than sober or sorrowful. There are no much figuratives, imageries, alliterations: "road all runners"(line 5), "Townsman of a stiller town"(line 8), "silence sounds"(line 15), "fleet foot"(line 22), personif<!--more-->ication: "the name died before the man"(line 20), repetition: "shoulder-high", "runners", "town", "man".
Line 1-5, I remembered the time when everyone was full of cheer, they lifted you up, carried round the town for winning trophy for the town.
Line 5-10, smart boy, you've realized that athletic glories don't last so much long; now your remains is carried shoulder-high to your dwelling.
Line 11-15, a youthful laurel will surely wither faster than rose placed in a coffin, and a dead athlete will not have to agonize when his record his beaten.
Line 16-20, now that you're dead, you won't be part of those athletes who outlived the honours or the renowned athletes whose names died before they died.
Line 21-28, now you're laid with your laurel and your championship trophy for the public to see the hero you were.
According to wikipedia article, "A. E. Housman (Alfred Edward Housman 26 March 1859 – 30 April 1936), was an English classical scholar and poet, best known to the general public for his cycle of poems A Shropshire Lad. Lyrical and almost
epigrammatic in form, the poems wistfully evoke the dooms and disappointments of youth in the English countryside. Their beauty, simplicity and distinctive imagery appealed strongly to late Victorian and Edwardian taste, and to many early 20th-century English composers both before and after the First World War."
Samuel C. Enunwa aka samueldpoetry
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