A Theme Of Fame In To An Athlete Dying Young

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The poem ‘To an Athlete Dying Young’ describes the death of a young successful athlete with a celebrating tone. Since he would never know the people who will soon break his record, the speaker states that it was rightful time for his death. With the poet’s use of personification and metaphor, he implies about temporary fame. Fame cannot become consistent in one’s life. We might lose fame, but we must not be so obsessed with those glories. The poet messages that people can also step out from the unnecessary races.

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The poet’s use of metaphor to provide a foundation for underline his principal theme of the poem. To illustrate, ‘laurel’ corresponds to glory in the poem. Since laurel was traditionally given to ancient Olympics winners, laurel is a common source that used to imply the glory. On line 11, the speaker states that laurel, the glory or the fame, is not only a thing that quickly grows but also something that quickly withers. Thus, this builds the central idea of a major point that the glory quickly fades. In addition, on line 22, the writer interprets that one must fleet foot on the sill of shade. Just as a word sill literally means to distinguish inside and outside so too the sill of shade is something in between light and shadow. Shadow refers to death because it corresponds to the shady night, which is death on line 12. So fleeting from the sill of shadow means to fight for the death and lift up the challenge cup, the glory. Overall, the use of metaphor in the poem creates lasting ideas that accentuate the theme of a poem.

The author’s personification on non-human entities understands the readers better by indicating a sense of the vivid image. For example, on line 13, ‘eyes, the shady night has shut’, contains the personification because night cannot shut the eyes. The true meaning of this phrase is that the shady night, which refers to the death in the poem, makes one blind. Later the poem states the death makes one deaf. This leads to the author’s message that the death on a be-time will prevent one to hear or to see the break of our short fame. On line 19 to 20, it states that renown outrun runners and name die before the man. This case we can also refer to the personification because the name cannot die and renown cannot outrun people. But what it really means that there is someone who lost their fame before they die. Looking at the whole stanza, it implies that the people whose names died before the man cannot brag to an athlete dying young.

Overall, the poet’s successful deliberate of metaphor and personification adds a vivid image into a poem and also accentuates a central theme of a poem. He has pointed out fame is something that disappears in the short term. So he criticizes us that we must not follow the fame because there is no need for us to follow the inconstant fame.  

16 August 2021

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