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To An Athlete Dying Young
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Literary Tools
Allusion. An allusion is a rhetorical technique in which reference is made to a person, event, object, or work from history or literature. Housman was a classical scholar and makes allusions in this poem to the ancient Greek custom of crowning victors with laurel.

Tone. Tone is the emotional attitude toward the reader or toward the subject implied by a literary work.

Reader's Resource
To an Athlete Dying Young” appears in Housman’s first book, A Shropshire Lad (1896). The poem, like his others, is written in a simple style, one which expresses Housman’s common theme of the transience of youth, beauty, and friendship. The poem harkens back to classical elegies of Greece and Rome, which often dealt with the death of a young athlete or hero.

As you read, pay attention to the tone Housman uses in “To an Athlete Dying Young.” Make a cluster chart listing words and p;hrases that illustrate the tone of the poem.

readers journal
Why do you think athletes often achieve celebrity status? What causes their fame to fade?

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