Essay on Analysis of to an Athlete Dying Young

1131 Words Dec 13th, 2010 5 Pages
Analysis of “To an Athlete Dying Young” In his poem “To an Athlete Dying Young”, A.E. Housman makes a quite different approach on death. People have different perspectives on death, but more often than not, it is viewed as an undesirable event that people wish to avoid. The speaker in the poem, however, praises a young and famous athlete for dying before he became old and forgotten. This can be interpreted two very different ways. One can assume Housman believes that the only way for athletes to capture the glory is to die when at the peak of their careers. One might criticize him for having such a pessimistic view of life, but we must realize that we are among many people who give those athletes the feeling of disgrace as they are no …show more content…
After lines 13 and 14, the lines again follow iambic tetrameter, providing a calm tone, which seems appropriate for remembering deceased. The poem progresses from mourning of the deceased to praising of his achievements and fate to die before his glory withered. Therefore, the tone shifts from somber and quiet to upbeat and positive. Such shift of tone is achieved by Housman’s use of sounds. In first two stanzas, Housman describes the funeral procession as he remembers the time when the young athlete was proudly brought home after he won a race. Then, he solaces the mourners by reminding them it is better that the athlete “slip betimes away from fields where glory does not stay” (lines 9 and 10) because the laurel “withers quicker than the rose” (line 12). The soft “s” sound stands out especially in second and third stanza and it creates a sense of calm and quiet tone and evokes an image of townspeople mourning the death of their “hero”; Consonance of “s” sounds is present in words “shoulder, set, threshold, townsman, stiller, smart, slip, betimes, fields, does, stay, grows, withers, and rose.” In addition to consonance, soft sound alliteration in “road all runners” (line 5) helps to create a quiet tone. As the poem progresses into praising of the young athlete in stanzas four through seven, the consonance of hard “c”, “t”, and “f” sound become prominent. Readers can immediately detect
Open Document