8th February 2019
An Analysis on A. E Housman’s “To an Athlete Dying Young”
Athletes and death, two entities seemingly unrelated however, what connects them is the nature of how they are perceived. One the quintessence of general admiration while the other the quintessence of fear. A.E Housman presents how the two meet in his work "To an Athlete dying Young'. In this poem he reflects the idea that death of glory is far more detrimental than death of the soul. The legacy a man leaves behind has a longer life than the man himself. Thus early death isn't always the tragedy it is made out to be. What causes this is the combination of a plethora of factors. The glorious that die young should be seen as fortunate for rather than victims of tragedy for the benefits outweigh the drawbacks. However to understand this argument one has to take an emotional and philosophical approach towards life rather than a practical one.
It is significant to establish why Housman chooses to address an athlete dying young specifically. This could be due to the fact that it is not uncommon to have an obsessive admiration for athletes. In AE Housman's case however this obsession is the amalgamation of many traits. One of the traits is his homosexuality, athletes being the epitome of physical fitness and beauty amongst men, it is understandable for a homosexual to have more romantic and passionate admiration for these athletes. Besides this AE Housman's romanticism may have been more personally driven due to his passionate, unconditional love for his former roommate 'Moses Jackson' who also was a young athlete (The Poetry Archive). This establishes why AE Housman may have felt the need to present an ideology that could be presented explicitly with any individual given that the individual is glorious, through an athlete. The premise that death at a young age could be beneficial for glory is applicable to any pursuit besides sports given the individual is at his or her prime. Athletes are one constant that are generally admired. However, AE Housman's reason for addressing an athlete would be the result of his influence of athletes due to his strong feelings for Moses Jackson.
Part of why athletes receive such love and admiration is the lifestyle they live, full of glory and fame. Housman accentuates the fame and glamour that comes with the victory of athletes. He does this as a juxtaposition of the lifestyle an athlete lives in his prime and past it. He elucidates how the glamour fades when he says "And the name died before the man" (Housman). All of this is done to...