To An Athlete Dying Young: Twisting the Idea of Death

June 7, 2022 by Essay Writer

From the poem “To An Athlete Dying Young”, Hausman demonstrates an unusual view that goes beyond the general idea of death. While dying at an early age is usually considered tragic, this particular author believes that early death was fortuitous for an athlete by referring to him as a “smart lad”. The setting of the poem is at the funeral along with a number of townspeople, who celebrated his victory before, bringing athlete onto their shoulders. In the scene, death is depicted brightly as if it is a new home for the young man. As an athlete, one can gain great achievements and honor throughout the glamorous life but these can soon fade after others break the record. He has to endure the humiliation and hard times as his name dies with the position being replaced. According to the author, the only way to maintain the permanent spotlight is death and that is why the young man’s death seems to be clever. His death will remain his legacy. The writer praises death after the peak of the carrier and glorious reputation which did not yet fade away. It leaves the readers to think about how modern society is overly obsessed with fame and several literary devices successfully support the idea.

The poem has its own unique style. Although the author’s actual intention is talking to a dead man since the title is “To An Athlete Dying Young”, repetition of addressing “you” in lines makes readers feel that they are part of the audience. It makes them look back on own status and social atmosphere abnormally clinging to name and victory. Rhyme scheme, aabbccdd…, creates a constant rhythm and illustrates a tragic and heavy topic, death, bit brighter and easier to think about. Personification in line 17 “Now you will not swell the rout” emphasizes the idea that glory of a dead athlete will never fade and will always take part in people’s hearts. Simile in line 11 to 12 “And early though the laurel grows It withers quicker than the rose.” emphasizes how fast the glory fades by comparing to a rose which dies soon. Rose which does not have water mostly lives for an hour and even rose with a water withers after a week. To sum up, “To An Athlete Dying Young” gives a powerful message to the society that how the society overly considers fame as one of the important personal traits and gives meaningless burden which even makes people think dying is better.


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