Study Guide

To an Athlete Dying Young What's Up With the Title?

By A.E. Housman

What's Up With the Title?

This title is nice and clear. We like clear. And it's honest. We like honest. The poem that follows this title is exactly what the title advertises: a poem about an athlete who dies young. Thanks A.E.Ā There is one important element in the title that is easy to miss, though. It's the word "To."

Throughout the poem, the speaker is talking, for the most part, to the dead athlete. Strange? A little. But it allows Housman to use the pronoun "you" instead of "he," and that kind of sucks us into the poem, because it sounds like the speaker is talking to us, as in "Hey, reader, I'm talking to you."

That you also forces us to put ourselves in the dead athlete's running shoes and consider our own mortality, as well as how we, personally, value fame and glory. So before we even get to the first link, Housman's choice of title has drawn us into the poem and made it more immediate, more personal to us. Sneaky, right?

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