To an Athlete Dying Young Questions and Answers
by A. E. Housman

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Please explain the poem "To an Athlete Dying Young" by A. E. Housman including figures of speech, the theme, and meaning.

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A. E. Housman takes an alternative look at dying in "To an Athlete Dying Young." Speaking directly to the young man who has died, the narrator tries to help not only himself but the other people who are grieving. 

The poem has seven stanzas written as quatrains.  Each quatrains has two couplets that rhyme.  Therefore, the rhyming scheme is AABB.

Several literary devices are used to bring the poem to life. The entire idea for the poem is an extended metaphor comparing the race that the boy won to the life that he lived. 

The time you won your town the race...

Today, the road all runners come,

Townsman of a stiller town.

Literally, the boy won a race which brought glory for him and his town. Now, figuratively, he is traveling another road that all men must travel to his grave.

Other metaphors are employed by the poet:

  • the road all runners come--death
  • And set you at your threshold down--the edge of the grave
  • Townsman of a stiller town--the

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