Everything Gold Will Die Young Essay

1023 words - 4 pages

A. E. Housman's "To an Athlete Dying Young" and "Nothing Gold Can Stay" by Robert Frost are poems on transience. The poems take a look at youth and the different perspectives it brings to life in general. Then they look at death and the way certain assets wither away. Although their outlook on death varies, both poets realize that fame and beauty fade, and that they should cherish their youth.Dying young is thought to be one of the most tragic of circumstances. The thoughts of lives wasted, dreams unattained, memories never conceived. It is sad fate uncontrollable by any earthly being. Most people desire to live to a ripe old age as to take full advantage of their time on earth, to experience as much as they can, and would be aghast to have premature death be viewed in a positive light. Yet this thought is the driving force behind "To an Athlete Dying Young" by Housman. Likewise, Frost portrays beauty as something that seems to be even more fleeting than it really is, in "Nothing Gold Can Stay". He compares a person's life to that of a tree, from the beginning of spring to the end of fall, changing right before one's eyes.Both poems look back on the beginning of a life. In "To an Athlete Dying Young," Housman reflects back on the life of a champion runner. Housman recalls the time the athlete won a race, gaining him public appreciation, "Man and boy stood cheering by/ And home we brought you shoulder-high"(lines 3-4). The speaker relates this joyous time to the present, where "Shoulder-high we bring you home/ And set you at your threshold down"(6-7). With the phrase "shoulder-high" he connects the race to the funeral procession. The honor of this treatment was endowed the first time for victory, and the final time for homage. The "threshold" symbolizes the grave of the athlete, his entry into the afterlife. In a similar sense, Frost writes "Nothing Gold Can Stay" as a tribute to youth. In his poem, he writes about "Nature's first green is gold"(line 1), which speaks of youth and how it is the loveliest part of life, but no matter how hard we try, it is the "hardest hue to hold"(2). He then mentions how the first leaf starts out as a flower. This symbolizes how we, as humans, begin our lives as little buds and it takes time, though not nearly long enough, for our mind and body to catch up and become a leaf.In addition, the two poets note how these treasures will be lost. Housman writes that victories do not last. Satire presents itself in the line "Smart lad, to slip betimes away/ From fields where glory does not stay"(9-10). Here Housman expresses that the athlete was in a way lucky to miss watching himself slip from fame, becoming again just another face in the crowd. He speaks on the aspect of since the athlete has passed away, he will not see his glories...

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