When reading literature, the excitement level is enhanced through an author’s use of irony. Through Housman’s poem he uses different literary devices; irony, alliteration, metaphors. Irony (death) is used to be the main theme of this poem. Alliteration appears only in a few lines to demonstrate feelings. Metaphors are used to show the contrast from before to after. In To An Athlete Dying Young, A.E. Housman uses irony to describe a character who overcomes all his accomplishments by time, memory, and the victories of others.
The poem opens up with:
“the time you won your town the race / we chaired you through the market-place; / man and boy stood cheering by, / and home we brought you shoulder-high” (1-4).
This first stanza recollects the young athlete being carried away on the townspeople 's shoulders after winning a race. Therefore, following lines after going into the athlete’s current situation: being dead. These lines are an extended metaphor to the athlete dying,
“to-day, the road all runners come,shoulder-high we bring you home, and set you at your threshold down, townsman of a stiller town” (5-8).
It quickly shows a contrast between how one moment he is carried for an accomplishment and it’s a good cause, but soon after he is dead, being carried away in a casket.
Housman says that no remorse should be felt for this athlete because he is dying a champion because he has simply not lived to see his records beaten. “No sense in lamenting the young man 's death, because he has not lived to see his records broken and will go to his grave a champion” (Housman). He shows only the positive aspects of this athlete dying young and does not spend much time discussing the negative aspects. Howev...
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...meaning victory and the athlete is dying with victory. Overall, Housman truly believes it is better to die while in your prime rather than to be forgotten and dishonored.
By this time, the reader can identify all literary actions used throughout To An Athlete Dying Young. Instead of a plain and simple, straight-forward poem about one specific topic or subject, Housman puts a twist into having something being so pure, to being blunt about a serious topic such as death. “Housman seems to have been uninterested in exploring such critical problems” (Leggett), what Leggett means is that Housman does not care what others have to say about his way of writing, he will write what he feels. Housman reveals that an athlete dying with attract more people who will appreciate what this athlete has done. Housman conveys irony of death by time, memory, and the victories of others.
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