To An Athlete Dying Young


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.

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.

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.

Eyes the shady night has shut 
Cannot see the record cut, 
And silence sounds no worse than cheers 
After earth has stopped the ears:

Now you will not swell the rout 
Of lads that wore their honours 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-laurelled head 
Will flock to gaze the strengthless dead, 
And find unwithered on its curls 
The garland briefer than a girl's.

-- A. E. Housman

Tags: athletes, death, poem, poetry, renown, youth

Views: 103

Replies to This Discussion

Well, that's one way of looking at things, although I think that if the deceased had a choice they might say something else.

As a poem, I like it. Housman had that talent of putting a lot of weight in a few words.

I am not at all that familiar with him. He's another one I must find time to explore. 

And yes, it is not a bad poem. 

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