Study Guide

To an Athlete Dying Young Pride

By A.E. Housman

Pride

Smart lad, to slip betimes away
From fields where glory does not stay, (9-10)

These two lines sum up this poem's prideful argument. The speaker is basically declaring that the young athlete is better off dead than defeated. If you follow this logic, the athlete basically lives for glory. Living for glory? Prideful much?

Eyes the shady night has shut
Cannot see the record cut, (13-14)

Here the speaker argues that a benefit of dying young is that the athlete never has to see someone break his records. What? Is this guy serious? Who could possibly think it's better to be dead than to see someone beat you? Oh yeah, someone who is super-super-prideful.

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. (17-20)

Thank goodness. Now that the athlete has died nice and young, he will never add his name to the ranks of those who have outlived their fame. What a relief. It seems like the speaker feels that to lose one's fame is a kind of death, "the name died before the man." Sounds like a serious case of pride to us.

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