Leaving at the Peak of Glory

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Most believe dying young is one of the greatest tragedies life holds. However, in the poem “To An Athlete Dying Young”, author A.E. Housman contradicts those beliefs. Housman uses the character of an athlete dying in the earlier stages of life to demonstrate the pros of dying at the peak of one’s glory. He does so by presenting this through the eyes of a speaker with a pessimistic view of life. Although a sad reality, according to the speaker of the poem, dying young is not as bad as it is naturally perceived. The speaker tries to make the most of the situation by explaining that the athlete is a, “smart lad to slip betimes away” (3). In saying so, the speaker implies that rather than death in youth being a sad and mournful time, it is more so an escape from seeing life's work being forgotten and faded. The speaker believes that such an event was a positive experience for the athlete because he died at their peak- long enough to see his glory, yet ceased right before he could see their fame decline and, “see the record cut” (4). Death helped the athlete out by not ...

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