Summary of “To An Athlete Dying Young”
No one remembers the names and the laurels of a man by the time he grows old .The reverence with which he was remembered by everyone in his youth defeats him. He is after earning fame all the life and trying to be in limelight, but the fame does not remain with him for lifetime.
In order to avoid the ignominy, it is important to quit and accept that fame does not remain forever. This is the only way to retain and live with the pride and not to face the indignity of fading away. Only people who understand and accept this can preserve their laurels.’ Early though the laurels grow, it withers quicker than the rose’ reinforced that victory and fame are temporary and thus fade away with time.
He maintains that an athlete dying young will attract more admirers and people will always have fond memories of his feats. The ‘garland on his curls’ refers to the appreciation for the achievements that he made when he lived. He will get more respect and revere for his laurels without having to face the heartbreak that would have accompanied him for life if he had lived. Thus untimely or young death of a positive has been taken in a positive light by the poet on the argument that one loses their honors and skills if they continue to live until an old age. The lost honors would have been a kind of the death to the athlete while still alive.