To An Athlete Dying Young - Four Levels | Adventure In English

A. E. Housman (1859 – 1936)

To An Athlete Dying Young

Literal Comprehension: One day the young athlete won the race sponsored by competing municipalities. After his victory, he was given a public procession and praised throughout the town. The whole town proudly watched all this. Next year the young athlete is being carried through the town once again, not for a victory, but for a memorial, along the same route, but this time in a coffin. The home that the athlete is taken to today is his grave. The athlete is praised for his timely death. The athlete is praise because he will know the only victory. He will never know how temporary fame is, nor will he feel the pain of fame fading away. The young man will never know the pain of not winning in the same race the next year, and he is always be remembered as a hero by the living. The death hero can never see his record beaten. He is lucky not to be among those who live longer than their achievements. He should be proud of his winning which he will take to the grave with him. He will always be remembered for his success in life which was signified by the garland that he once wore in his hair.

Interpretation: This poem might be trying to tell us that fame is more short-lived than life itself. So one should try one’s best to maintain be an honor. It may also be interpreted to mean that one should always live a famous life by sacrificing anything.

Critical Thinking: The speaker has praised the athlete because he died when his name is at the top. But I disagree with the speaker. I think that life is meant to be lived, not no die just for the sake of honor. But if the speaker is consoling the athlete to accept the sure death I agree with him.

Assimilation: By reading this poem I realized how certain death is. One has to die whether one is young or old, whether one is famous or notorious. But it is better to die young than to live longer being notorious.

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