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Sturgeon English 12- A 3 April 2007 Poetry Analysis Paper Athletes around the world are granted with fame very frequently. These athletes set records, win medals, and get the crowd going. If a famous athlete were to die at the peak of their young life, the sport would still continue. A.E Housman shows this in his poem, “To an Athlete Dying Young.” "To an Athlete Dying Young" by A. E. Housman is a poem with symbols of youthful death, glory, and fame. To die young as an athlete is a lucky time to die according to the poem. In the poem it says, "Smart lad, to slip betimes betimes away from fields where glory does not stay" (Houseman 910). It says the athlete is smart for dying when he did, as the glory fades away as his life continues. This concept of youthful dying athletes is also supported where it says, "A Shropshire Lad is a book which begins in death and concludes in an eternal life of shared art and love" (Martin). A Shropshire Lad is the book where this poem was first located. Although death is a major symbol in this poem, laurel is also a good representation of glory. The glory, or the is represented by a garland wreath (laurel), which is a symbol of the athlete's glory in his life. In the poem says, "And early through the laurel grows it withers quicker than a rose"(11-12). The withering is referring to the glory an athlete receives for winning. It was smart for this athlete to die young at the peak when the glory was still there, as opposed to dying older when nobody remembers him. This glory where it says, "The laurel,[. . .] is a symbol of victory for both athlete and poet" (Exploring Poetry). The glory is a representation of the theme. It

Collier 2 represents the poem itself according to Martin, "...the poem itself is the laurel wreath bestowed on the young man, and it is the wreath which guarantees a life beyond death.” (Martin). The glory is a major theme of the poem along with the theme of fame. Fame is seen through out this poem. This athlete's fame would never have lasted if he were to continue his life. The poem says, "Now you will not swell the rout of lads that wore their honors out"(Houseman 17-18). Other athletes wore their fame out, but this particular athlete never had to see the day where his honors left him. In ways its better to at the peak of fame, rather than having to see all of the fame leave your life as you grow older. Martin says, "the beauty of the youth achieves its peak" (Martin). This theme of fame is relevant to the poem as the other themes explained. An athlete is always bound for fame, glory?, and death, but it is never really experienced all at the same time. For this to happen to someone, it would make things much more tragic for the fans, and help this athlete stay memorable in the future. This concept is proven true in many cases. If one can remember any athlete to die at the peak of their life, it wouldn't be surprising. An athlete that dies like this is remembered much more than an athlete that dies at an old age.

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Works Cited "Criticism: 'To an Athlete Dying Young' by A.E Housman." Exploring Poetry. Online Edition. Gale, 2003. Discovering Collection. Alabama Virtual Library. Spain Park High School. Thomson Gale 04 April 2007 <>. Housman, A. E. "To an Athlete Dying Young." Elements of Literature. Sixth Course. Ed. Richard Sime. Austin: Holt, Rinehart, and Winston, 2000. 186. Martin, Robert K., "A. E. Housman's Two Strategies: `A Shropshire Lad,' and `Last Poems" in The Victorian Newsletter, No. 66, Fall, 1984, pp. 14-17. Discovering Authors. Online Edition. Gale, 2003. Discovering Collection. Thomson Gale. Spain Park High School Library. 03 April 2007 <>