Could someone please help me locate where and how imagery is used in this poem, and also if there are any metaphors?

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Houseman's poem features a great deal of figurative language in its description of an athlete's accomplishments and the inevitable failure that awaits.  The second stanza is a wonderful use of imagery of praise:  "Shoulder high we bring you home."  There are other examples of this notion of praise, in the first and third stanzas.  These images are wrapped with the idea of the athlete enjoying praise from fans.  These pictures are contrasted with the silence that results from the results of not winning, or not participating in activities that illicit praise:  "From fields where glory does not stay."  The overall metaphor in the poem is the idea of the praise of the athlete.  The poem suggests that each athlete endures two forms of death.  There is one type of death to which all humans must succumb.  Yet, another type of death, spoken to in a loud and resounding manner throughout the poem, is the idea of an athlete who no longer enjoys the praise of the fan, the adulation from their audience.  Perhaps, this is the larger metaphor for everyone who enjoys appreciation from others as a part of their chosen craft, for at some point, this will disappear and leave a void, similar to the athlete in Houseman's poem.

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To an Athlete Dying Young

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