My first impressions of this poem were of confused.  It makes me feel sad, yet, at the same time, heavy.

A line that especially evokes the first feeling for me is, “Eyes the shady night has shut / Cannot see the record cut.”  The other feeling–a feeling of happiness–arises when I read the line(s), “Today, the road all runners come / Shoulder-high we bring you home / And set you at your threshold down, / Townsman of a stiller town.”  Perhaps this stood out to me because the speaker was talking about the way.

What I know about the situation is that that was talking about an athlete winning something. What I know about the speaker is that he is the kind of person who is nice. This is suggested by the words in the lines “Of lads that wore their hours out, / Runners whom renown outran / And the name died before the man.” The speaker seems to be speaking to anybody that’s reading this, and perhaps to him being a hood type of person. I say this because of the base of the reading I was reading.  

The poem is based on the life story of a young winner from a particular culture, and it is a historical moment. The poem revolves around several themes, including justice and survival.   

If this poem were a question, the answer would be “the way the athlete is when he outran the other racer.”  If it were an answer, the question would be “what made the athlete a survivor?”

The title suggests that the kid was very young and loved to race, but he got very sick and then bad things went downhill from there.    The poem’s form is an epic. This form is a vehicle for the content of the poem.   The poem is very confused but easy at the same time.

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CC BY-SA 4.0 A close reading of “To an Athlete Dying Young “ by Quantel is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

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