Contrast Essay: "To an Athlete Dying Young" vs. "Ex-Basketball Player"

1572 Words May 24th, 2010 7 Pages
Contrast Essay: "To An Athlete Dying Young" vs. "Ex-Basketball Player"

“To An Athlete Dying Young” and “Ex-Basketball Player” share the lives of two very different athletes. Both experience success in their lives, but one dies with his glory while the other lives past his days of glory and works at a gas pump where he is not recognized. The poems discuss the importance of having glory and keeping that glory as long as possible. Through the poems the readers learn the benefits of dying young as well as the consequences of living after one's glory has faded. Where Houseman glorifies the athlete for his achievements and early death, Updike portrays the disappointment of the athlete living past his days of glory and not reaching high
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The strength less dead are the athletes whose “name died before the man”(20). Housman emphasizes through the imagery that it is better to do while one is still remembered since the glory will stay with him and not fade away. “To An Athlete Dying Young” glorifies the athlete through the use of imagery while “Ex-Basketball Player” uses it to emphasize the athlete’s fading glory.

In contrast to the imagery used by Housman, Updike stresses the athlete’s fading glory as the athlete has lived past his triumphant days. As “To An Athlete Dying Young” begins the poem through the imagery that shows the athlete’s success and his gain of honor, whereas “Ex-Basketball Player” indicates that the athlete’s life is no longer filled with glory. The road leading to the place where he works shares with the readers how meaningless and empty the athlete’s life has become as the road “runs past the high-school lot, bends with the trolley tracks, and stops, cut off” (2). Flick, the subject of the poem, has had his years of glory when he played for his high school since he had the skills and talent to break records. He had extra talent that made him become one with the basketball and handle it like no one else could as “his hands were like wild birds” (18). Although Flick had his glorious years, unlike the athlete in “To An Athlete Dying Young” Flick’s glory does not last because he now “checks oil, and changes flats” (20). “To An Athlete Dying Young” emphasizes that it is better
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