Thursday, February 12, 2009

Poems we hate: AE Housman, "To an Athlete Dying Young"

Why do we hate it? Because the sentiment is incredibly trite, and more than a little insulting. "Boy, you should sure be glad you're buying the farm now; otherwise, your life would have gotten MUCH, MUCH worse, because let's face it--how could it POSSIBLY get any better than the transcendental awesomeness of being a high school track star? Trust me--death is FAR preferable to having to live up to that incredible achievement. You should be grateful."

Were I the dying athlete in question I would respond: "What the fuck, AE? Is this supposed to make me feel better? I was a TEENAGE TRACK STAR. You think that equals eternal glory? I'll TELL you what it equals: There will be a moment of silence in my honor in homeroom. They will put up a plaque for me on a decorative boulder. My name will be remembered by people who live in this town--and in this town ONLY--until they die off. Then, NO ONE will remember. C'est tout. How dare you suggest that this rather-insignificant-in-the-long-run achievement is the best I could do? We're not all doomed to be Rabbit Angstrom, you asshole. It's too bad YOU didn't die young: then someone could have written a poem about what a lucky break YOUR young death was, because if you'd lived longer, people would have been forced to endure your shitty poetry. It wouldn't likely be much of a poem either, but at least it would have irony in its favor."


Anonymous Thidwick the Dim-Witted Moose pontificated to the effect that...

I'm going to be the first person to write a comment to an obviously ignorant human being. You obviously are not an athlete or you would understand the true meaning of the poem you idiot and i'll dare you call this poet who speaks from his heart an asshole i think you should look in the mirror you pathetic excuse for a commenter.

6:38 PM  
Blogger GeoX, who is here to stay, like it or not. pontificated to the effect that...

Man, you never know what's gonna set some people off, do you? The world is a fascinating place.

Also, not that it's particularly relevant, but I happen to be a fairly devoted runner, so you are heartily encouraged to shove it up your ass.

6:41 PM  

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