Study Guide

To an Athlete Dying Young The Home

By A.E. Housman

The Home

In "To an Athlete Dying Young," Housman introduces the idea of home in the very first stanza. You should see a big ol' theme flag flapping wildly in the poet-y breeze. It's telling you to be on the lookout for this idea as one of the poem's key themes. In the poem, Housman equates crossing from the land of the living to the land of the dead to moving from one town, one home, to another. We're not buying it, but see what you think.

Questions About The Home

  1. What makes something a home? How is your definition of home similar or different from Housman's?
  2. In the poem, dying is like moving to a new home. What makes this comparison work and what makes it seem just downright nuts?
  3. So, you think Housaman's death-as-new home metaphor is crazy. Think you can do better? Go for it. See how many death metaphors and similes you can come up with.
  4. There's an old saying: "Home is where the heart is." In "To an Athlete Dying Young," home is in a graveyard. Given his alternative views on the idea of home, would Housman agree or disagree with this saying? Why do you think so?

Chew on This

Meh—equating the ideas of home and death is not new. Housman's idea of home in "To an Athlete Dying Young" is basically the same as most organized religions that incorporate the idea of Heaven.

Most of us tend to associate home with comfort and safety: two things we long for when confronted with death (who could blame us, right?). Housman uses the idea of home to help ease the emotional pain of death in "To an Athlete Dying Young."

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