To An Athlete Dying Young By: A.E. Housman Ashley Odegard and Natalie Neisen Historical Context • • • • • A.E. Housman was born March 26th 1959 Written during the MODERN period Published in 1896 in between the two Boer Wars Poem gained even more popularity during World War One (ode to the soldiers) From the beginning he knew what his life's work was to be: redaction — the search for truth through correcting scribal errors in classical texts The time you won your town the race We chaired you through the marketplace; Man and boy stood cheering by, And home we brought you shoulder high Today, the road runners come, Shoulder-high we bring you home, And set you at your threshold down, Townsman of a stiller town. Smart lad, to slip betimes away From fields where glory does not stay And early through the laurel grows It withers quicker than the rose. Now you will not swell the rout Of lads that wore their honors out, Runners whom renown outran And the name died before the man. So set, before its echoes fade, The fleet foot on the sill of shade, And hold to the low lintel up The still-defended challenge cup. And round that early-laureled head Will flock to gaze the strengthless dead, And find unwithered on its curls The garland briefer than a girl's. Title The title seems to suggest this poem will be an elegy or dedicated to an athlete who unexpectedly died. Paraphrase The time you won your town the race We chaired you through the marketplace: Man and boy stood cheering by, And home we brought you shoulder-high. When you won the race, we carried you through town. Everyone cheered and we brought you home on our shoulders. Today, the road all runners come, Shoulder-high we bring you home, And set you at your threshold down, Townsman of a stiller town. Today everyone is coming, we carry you shoulder high again, but in a casket. We set you down and the town is still. Smart lad, to slip betimes away From fields where glory does not stay And early though the laurel grows It withers quicker than the rose. You are smart to go away before your glory faded because fame never lasts long. Paraphrase Eyes the shady night has shut Cannot see the record cut, And silence sounds no worse than cheers After earth has stopped the ears: You will never see the record you set or be able to tell the difference between cheers and silence because you are gone. Now you will not swell the rout Of lads that wore their honors out, Runners whom renown outran And the name died before the man. At least you won't be like all the others runners whose glory faded and were left with nothing. Paraphrase So set, before its echoes fade, The fleet foot on the sill of shade, And hold to the low lintel up The stilldefended challenge cup. And round that early-laurled head Will flock to gaze the strengthless dead, And find unwithered on its curls The garland briefer than a girl's. So we leave you in the shade here with your trophy and your records and glory. Everyone will flock to your grave to see you even though your glory was very brief. Connotation -Written in iambic tetrameter (The time you won your town the race) Some lines change to trochaic tetrameter (Eyes the shady night has shut) -This metric pattern adds a mournful feeling to the poem. -Housman uses metaphors to create a more abstract theme of death. (glory to a withering rose, home to graveyard) - Apostrophe- talks to the athlete even though he has passed away. -Personification- (earth has stopped the ears) Attitude (Tone) - Celebratory- Housman seems to imply that it may be better to die when you're young and in your prime, rather than grow old and watch your accomplishments fade away. Shift - There are two clear shifts- one in metric pattern and one in tone. - Metric pattern shifts from iambic tetrameter to trochaic tetrameter in the fourth stanza. This stanza makes it the most clear that the runner has died, so the shift causes the reader to slow down and realize this and to mourn the athlete. - The tone shifts after the second stanza. The tone shifts from joyous and impressed by the runner to mournful and depressed over the runner's death. Title Housman chose this title to show make it more clear the point of the death he was trying to make and to show the poems dedication. The title makes the reader ready for a sad story about an unexpected death. Theme - Glory and fame fades away. (From fields where glory does not stay) -We can not take our life or our abilities for granted. (And the name died before the man) Theme - Form- lyrical and elegy The poem is about a serious topic of death and fading glory, but also mourns the death of the runner. -Purpose-This poem reflects on life and working so hard for something that will have no value once we are gone. Bibliography Cummings, Michael J. "To an Athlete Dying Young." To an Athlete Dying Young. N.p., June 2012. Web. 25 Apr. 2013.http://www.cummingsstudyguides.net/Guides3/Housman.html a)This source helps to break down the poem and discusses different lines within the poem by restating them in different words as well as giving helpful insights. b)This source is credible because it has a decent sense of authority. On the contact me page, the author lists his past professions as an english teacher, editor of a publishing company, and an author of multiple books. This article was also updated less than a year ago so its currency helps make it even more credible. c)We specifically chose this website to help us with the paraphrasing portion of the power point. We used the information found on this website tot form a better understanding about what this poem was really about and develop a deeper understanding of what it meant by reading it in simpler terms on this website. Sullivan, Dick. "A. E. Housman: A Life in Brief." A. E. Housman: A Life in Brief. N.p., 8 June 2007. Web. 25 Apr. 2013.http://www.victorianweb.org/authors/housman/bio.html a)This source helped give insight to the life and history of the author of this poem, A.E. Housman. It stated some basic facts about his early life and when his poems were published. b)This source is also credible because it has a very good amount of authority. The author of this website had a bibliography with about ten other sources listed on it. After checking out these other listed websites it was clear that they were written by trustworthy professionals including some professors from Cambridge University. This article is also very objective. It just presents straight facts and does not try to sell you on any point of view . c)We specifically chose this website to help with the history part of the power point. It gave very good, accurate information on the author and time period. All the information listed on the history slideshow was taken from this website and no other website that we saw gave as appropriate and helpful information.