How does the theme of Housman's poem "To an Athlete Dying Young" relate to works by other authors?I am analyzing Housman's poem, "To an Athlete  Dying Young." I am having problems finding how the...

How does the theme of Housman's poem "To an Athlete Dying Young" relate to works by other authors?

I am analyzing Housman's poem, "To an Athlete  Dying Young." I am having problems finding how the poem's theme relates to works by other authors. I must have specific examples. I can use author's from Housman's era or different time periods.  I have searched the Internet and databases with no luck.  Any help would be appreciated. Thanks!

Asked on by jaimone

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Lori Steinbach | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

This is a tough one, I think, and I really only have one loosely connected work to give you.  The theme of Housman's "To an Athlete Dying Young" is that it's better to die young, when the early victories have not been tarnished or overshadowed by a less than productive adult life, rather than life a life which loses meaningfulness over time rather than gaining it.

The work I compare it to is Keats's "Ode on a Grecian Urn," which has a somewhat similar theme--while the beautiful images on the urn will never be able to hear the music or feel the kiss, they will always remain beautiful and young and live in anticipation of those thrilling things.  The trees will never lose their leaves, and the young couple will never grow old and ugly.  So, better to remain frozen in time and place as young and beautiful rather than grow old and lose the magic and beauty of young love.

Clearly, though, both works make a comment on being frozen in time, either through death or on a work of art.  It may be true that the laurels and the beauty will never fade; however, the implied theme for both is that there will also be no joy or love or life.  Hope that helps.

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