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Poetry analysis - Essay Example

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Summary
Alfred Edward Housman (1859-1936) spent most of his life as a professor of Latin, but managed to publish two books during his lifetime that had a tremendous impact upon the literate community. The first, “A Shropshire Lad,” was published in 1896 and has never been out of…
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Download file to see previous pages ot return his affections, the early death of his mother and the death of a second person close to him leading to the development of “A Shropshire Lad”, “a collection of sixty-three poems addressing the themes of unrequited love, the oblivion of death, and idealized military life” that carefully navigated around any issues of homosexuality. In addition, he is surprisingly consistent in his writing, showing nearly identical themes, forms and language usage in “Last Poems” as were used in “A Shropshire Lad.” However, his “open investigations of the mysteries of death and the dual nature of humankind have earned him acknowledgment as a precursor to the development of modern poetry” (“A.E. Housman”, 2006). These attitudes about death can be most understood as they are expressed in the poems “To An Athlete Dying Young,” “When I Was One and Twenty,” “With Rue My Heart is Laden” and “Is My Team Ploughing?”
In “To An Athlete Dying Young”, Housman demonstrates a sensitive honor for the man who dies in his prime, invoking a powerful sense of regretful comprehension regarding the wisdom of dying young. He begins the poem with a nostalgic look back at the happy crowd carrying the star athlete around on a chair, everyone celebrating and having a good time. This nostalgia is established by the wistful “The time you won” (1) that immediately invokes a fog of memory around the edges of the scene described. The hero’s way is carefully invoked in the lines “Man and boy stood cheering by, / And home we brought you shoulder-high” (3-4) to be carefully juxtaposed against the same phrase in the second stanza: “Shoulder-high we bring you home, / And set you at your threshold down” (6-7). With only this slight change in language, Housman makes it clear that this is no longer a cheering crowd, they are not celebrating and, by distinguishing his friend as “Townsman of a stiller town” (8), he makes it obvious that this is a ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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