In “To an athlete dying young,” Housman praises a dying athlete’s glory, which will remain in his mind long after he is gone. The exaggerated praise for the athlete’s early death suggests an ironic tone, and the poem may be a critique of the culture’s devotion to youthful glory.
While Housman’s “To an Athlete Dying Young” is a lament for the young athlete’s early death, the poem is more than a conventional elegy. In fact, it pitches the positive side of dying young, which is a departure from the typical elegy.
While the lament focuses on the adolescent athlete, the elegy also reflects the loss of a local sports hero. Its protagonist, an athlete who dies of natural causes, is not only a hero but also a symbol of the local sports tradition. This young athlete, who had risen to prominence in his community, was expected to continue his athletic prowess beyond his lifetime.
The elegy is composed of two main parts: the introductory section and the climax. The speaker addresses the athlete directly in the first section and explores the advantages and disadvantages of dying young. He also reveals some of his fears about dying. In the third stanza, he refers to the athlete as a “smart lad.” The term “lad” is a term of endearment for younger men, but it does not imply that the speaker knew him personally.
The persona of an athlete dying young is a poignant and moving piece by A.E. Housman. His poems capture a poignant emotion, and his witty style cuts through the doom and draws out the tragic irony of young death. Housman began writing poetry at a time when he was experiencing profound loss. His early intimacy with the great poet Moses Jackson, who spurned him when he was young, compelled him to write poetry.
Ultimately, “To an Athlete Dying Young” ends with an image of a dead athlete crossing the threshold and wearing a laurel wreath. The poem is about an athlete’s glory and reputation, and its poignancy is reflected in the way that Housman depicts death. Although the athlete is dead, he is depicted as young, and his laurel wreath signifies victory.
The poem’s remembrance of the athlete’s life is not merely a mournful elegy, but a piece of Romance. While the latter genre focuses on a hero as a representative of a society, Housman’s poem honors an individual and reveals a general anxiety of mortality.
The laurel wreath
Historically, the laurel wreath was given to an athlete who had triumphed in a competition. Its meaning was twofold, representing both victory and ephemerality. It was also worn by poets, a symbol of literary success in the ancient Greek world. The laurel leaf, which is delicate and grows early in the season, represents the fleeting beauty of life. Moreover, it is symbolic of a person’s status and public acclaim.
This poem is composed of seven quatrains, each containing four lines. The poem is organized in three sections: stanzas 2-4 discuss the athlete’s life and death, stanzas 5-7 are dedicated to celebrating the athlete’s life, and stanzas 7-10 discuss his funeral. In addition to being a lyric poem, “To an Athlete Dying Young” also employs literary devices, including alliteration and enjambment. A tetrameter is also used in the poem, but mostly iambic.
This poem was written by A. E. Housman and first published in his Shropshire Lad collection in 1896. It describes the funeral of an athlete who dies prematurely. Though the poet praises his dying young athlete for his athletic achievements, the poem shows the speaker’s anxiety about mortality. The poem is a beautifully written piece of poetry that expresses the importance of youth and death in our lives.
Housman’s use of couplets
Housman’s use of couplet-form in ‘To an Athlete Dying Young’ combines two themes in his poetry: the idea of dying young and the idea of youth. This poem challenges readers to reconsider their traditional notions of youth and death.
The poem is full of imagery that highlights the fleeting nature of life and death. The poem describes the life of a young runner who dies far too early, and it uses metaphor to explore the imagery of youth. It compares the young runner to a laurel tree.
The poet’s setting is British, and the use of the word “lad” in the poem is distinctly British. Even the use of the term “market-place” in the poem evokes market-based towns in England. Whether this was a deliberate choice or a recurrent occurrence, Housman’s poems reflect his unique worldview.
“To an Athlete Dying Young” is just one of sixty-three poems in a series. The poem is not a standalone poem; it must be viewed in the context of A Shropshire Lad to appreciate its meaning. As with all of Housman’s poetry, it needs to be read in context. The entire collection of poems is meant to be read as a whole volume.