To An Athlete Dying Young

407 Words2 Pages
“To An Athlete Dying Young” “To An Athlete Dying Young” by A. E. Housman a young sportsman meets a seemingly tragic demise. Yet his death is not just met with grief but also with honor as he dyes the death of a champion and will remain one so long as he is alive in memories as no one will have the chance to defeat him. The poem “To An Athlete Dying Young” embodies the saying “the good die young” and shows there are other ways of viewing death than sorrow and trepidation. At first sight Housman appears to be challenging traditional views about death in this poem. The traditional view being it is best to live a long life and accept ones triumphs and defeats as they come; however, this was not always believed and so Mr. Housman is not conveying a new concept of death but evoking an ancient belief concerning the glory of a champion. In many early civilizations human sacrifice was a common practice in religion. It was considered the highest honor to be able to completely sacrifice one’s self to one’s gods. In order to be able to properly venerate the deities served one would have to be someone of importance in order to be sacrificed. It was not enough that one put down their life if one’s life was worthless. A man who has nothing to lose is not sacrificing anything, and so in early cultures sports became a way of bringing honor to that individual before dying. In the poem the young athlete is not sacrificed nor does he die of his own will at all. None the less Housman draws this comparison because the athlete did die close after his triumph and thus did die as a winner. Aside from the barbaric view of the ancients there are other reasons for dying young after an achievement can be prized. The world of sports is constantly moving and changing. Old athletes are replaced by younger ones and the older ones are often forgotten. Living through the time of being forgotten
Open Document