To An Athlete Dying Young, By A.E. Houseman And Crossing The Bar, By Lord Alfred Tennyson

1369 words - 5 pages

“To An Athlete Dying Young” by A.E. Houseman and “Crossing The Bar” by Alfred, Lord Tennyson are poems that very similar to each other yet so different. “To An Athlete Dying Young” is about an athlete who dies young and Houseman congratulates him because people will remember him forever. “Crossing the Bar” is about Tennyson realizing that he is about to die and he accepts his fate. Both poems have a similar theme of death. Both authors make clever uses of symbols such as, in “To An Athlete Dying Young,” Tennyson uses a laurel plant, and a rose plant to symbolize the athlete’s accomplishments. In “Crossing the Bar”, Tennyson uses the sandbar to symbolize the crossing over. However, the rhyme scheme of these poems is different. Houseman writes in the traditional AABB rhyme scheme and Tennyson writes in the ABAB rhyme scheme. Both poems have a similar view of death; they also have similar uses of symbols, but differ in rhyme schemes.
Both poems have a propitious view of the theme of death. In “To An Athlete Dying Young” Houseman praises the young athlete for dying relatively young. He says “smart lad…not stay (9-10).” Houseman tells the athlete that he was smart to die at a young age because he can no longer witness his glory fade away as he gets older. His interpretation of death is very ironic. Many people consider it a tragedy when an athlete dies young because the athlete cannot further his career anymore, but Houseman argues that an athlete should not further his career because once he is old, he is a shell of his former self. By taking his life during a young age, the athlete gave himself eternal life in people’s mind. Moreover, in “Crossing The Bar”, Tennyson describes death as something people should not fear. Tennyson knows that death is approaching when he says “sunset and evening star/and one clear call for me (1-2).” Sunset refers to the sun literally setting on his life and the evening star resembles night which represents his death. He knows that his time is coming soon but Tennyson does not want anyone to be sad because he is going to see his “pilot face to face (15).” Death gives him a chance to traverse through the threshold of life and into the afterlife. Tennyson does not think that death is the end, but a beginning because his spirit will live on with god. He wants death to free him from his hollow shell of a body. He sees death as a way to reach god and conveys the message that people should not fear death. Tennyson’s view of death is similar to that of Houseman’s because they both feel that death is not something to mourn over. Houseman believes that since the athlete dies very young, he will forever be remembered by people for what he accomplished. Tennyson believes in death in which he tells people to be glad that death has given him a chance to see god.
Furthermore, both of these poems make clever uses of symbols. In “To An Athlete Dying Young,” Houseman uses plants such as the laurel and the rose to describe an...

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