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“To an Athlete Dying Young”

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1 “To an Athlete Dying Young”
Tyler Brazeal and Olivia Barringer

2 Introduction “To an Athlete Dying Young” is a poem by English poet A.E. Housman. Basically, the poem is about an athlete who died young. A.E. Housman tries to find a light in this tragedy by saying the athlete will never have to experience the downfall of his popularity because he died at the height of his career and died in fame.

3 Time period/poem style
The poem is from the Victorian Era or the Modern time period, as it was written in "To an Athlete Dying Young" is a lyric poem. Because it praises an athlete who died young, the poem may be further classified as an elegy.

4 Theme “People’s legacies will fade and be replaced by successors. Rewards and recognition are short lived and are soon forgotten when the next best thing comes along. The only way a person can capture glory and make it last is to die young after achieving greatness.”

5 Essay! Organize it by the way the poem develops in the stanzas (each stanza could be a body paragraph); the rise of the “athlete” (recognition) in stanzas 1-2, 3-4 is his moment in the spotlight already fading, 5-7 is a meditation on how short lived his “life” or legacy was. Thesis statement: Housman, through a combination of literary devices, structure, and an (at times) somewhat harsh and critical tone, is able to further a theme of an athlete dying before he has a chance to see his legacy fade or be replaced by a successor. Topic Sentence #1 – Housman begins to develop his theme of the athlete dying before his legacy dies in the first two stanzas, which narrate examine the rise of the athlete before his premature death. Topic Sentence #2 – The third and fourth stanzas are more meditative as they analyze the death of the athlete and how this death affects his legacy and glory. Topic Sentence #3 – The final three stanzas reflect on the village’s reaction to the athlete’s premature death and how the athlete’s name has not been tarnished with the passing of time because of this death.

6 Analysis of stanzas 1 and 2
The time you won your town the race We chaired you through the market-place; Man and boy stood cheering by, And home we brought you shoulder-high. Today, the road all runners come, Shoulder-high we bring you home, And set you at your threshold down, Townsman of a stiller town.

7 Analysis of stanzas 3 and 4
Paraphrase Literary Devices Smart lad, to slip betimes away From fields where glory does not stay, And early though the laurel grows It withers quicker than the rose. Eyes the shady night has shut Cannot see the record cut, And silence sounds no worse than cheers After earth has stopped the ears. Glory will die faster than the person who earned the glory Simile Metaphor Oxymoron

8 Analysis of Stanzas 5 and 6
Now you will not swell the rout Of lads that wore their honours out, Runners whom renown outran And the name died before the man. So set, before its echoes fade, The fleet foot on the sill of shade, And hold to the low lintel up The still-defended challenge-cup.

9 Analysis of stanza 7 And round that early-laurelled head Will flock to gaze the strengthless dead, And find unwithered on its curls The garland briefer than a girl’s. Even the dead will admire the athlete’s glory in life, as short lived as it was


11 Works Cited "A. E. Housman." Poetry Foundation. Poetry Foundation. Web. 19 Jan <>. Halley, Catherine. "To an Athlete Dying Young." Poetry Foundation. Poetry Foundation. Web. 19 Jan "To an Athlete Dying Young." To an Athlete Dying Young. Web. 19 Jan <

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