David Overly, Ph.D.
July 23, 2014
The poem “To an Athlete Dying Young” is about a young athlete from a small town who represents for his town and people by winning a footrace. The athlete is being cheered on and praised for the accomplishments he has done for his fans and town but at the end of the race the athlete has no idea what’s in store for him as soon as he reaches the finish line, sudden death. The young athlete is dead and his people are devastated after they have witnessed glory and fame cut short. Ironically A.E Housman doesn’t laminate the athlete’s sad death nor does he acknowledge it in a negative way instead Housman talks about the ...view middle of the document...
Housman doesn’t describe death as just going to a dark hole but he describes it as an everlasting home or destination. Housman makes it clear that glory is fleeting; glory will come and go but then again you never really know how long someone could be in their prime for. Bob Marley was in his prime for years; he got to see the flashing lights and got to experience the life of a celebrity while his music was still a success. Also in the poem “To an Athlete dying young” in the very first stanza Housman introduces the idea of home and it seems to also be one of the key themes. Housman compares crossing the land of the existing to the land of the dead and also uses the idea of home to comfort the pain of death in the poem, On the other hand Bob Marley was very contributed his home his influence in his native land was seen as a threat to the PNP’s rival which might have caused the death of his wife Rita and the attempted murder on Bob. In “To an Athlete Dying Young” pride plays a very important roll, we all know pride and completion often go hand in hand for better or worse but Housman suggest that dying young the athlete doesn’t have to worry about losing fame, losing pride , and losing athletic ability. Bob Marley’s pride was very absolute especially because of where he comes from and the great accomplishments he has achieved during his lifetime that requires pride to have such an effect on someone listening to his music. Even after passing away Bob’s music remains widely praised and his music legacy continues. Pride is what helps to achieve victory!
In Stanza 2 of “To an Athlete Dying Young” Housman states “The road all runner come” (5), mentions that death awaits the athlete at the end of the race and the same towns people who cheered on the young athlete on the day of the race are now bringing the athlete “home” (6) (graveyard) “shoulder high” (6) (in the casket) .Bob Marley can relate to this because when he found out his life was at a near end the first thing on his mind was for him to go home to his country, unfortunately cancer beat him before he could make it to his homeland, but Bob Marley’s body was shipped the next day to Jamaica for a funeral which was an astonishing event for his fans, thousands of them! Housman directly talks about how the young athlete was wise to pass away early where he states “smart lad, to slip bedtimes away” (9), as Housman tries to look on the bright side considering that glory does not stay permanently. In other words if the athlete would of stayed alive would he have won every race he is expected to win or will he disappoint his fans and his town? Well according to Housman the athlete had an early victory in life “early though the laurel grows” (11), but it will fade away quick, just how quick? “Quicker than the rose” (12), as Housman stated. Basically, Housman is suggesting that the love and respect the crowd has for the athlete in death will last much longer, and perhaps even be eternal. Now when Bob...