Posted by: Anonymous Me | January 19, 2011

Bonus Poem of the Week…

One of the things about living overseas is that most American civic holidays pass you by unless you are alerted to them. It took me until today, after reading several blog posts mentioning it, to realize that Monday was Martin Luther King Day. Before I put the tv in the closet, I watched an interview with Jesse Jackson where he talked about his work with Dr. King. So many people are lauded for accomplishing things that, while impressive, have no real lasting impact (a glut of sports “heroes” come to mind). I think Dr. King, though not perfect by any means, is one of the few people who deserve all the praise and glory heaped upon his name and memory. When I was pondering over what I could say about him, all that came to mind is the following poem, one of my absolute favorites:

XIX. To an Athlete Dying Young
by A. E. Housman (1859-1936)

The time you won your town the race
We chaired you through the market-place;
Man and boy stood cheering by,
And home we brought you shoulder-high.

To-day, the road all runners come,
Shoulder-high we bring you home,
And set you at your threshold down,
Townsman of a stiller town.

Smart lad, to slip betimes away
From fields were glory does not stay
And early though the laurel grows
It withers quicker than the rose.

Eyes the shady night has shut
Cannot see the record cut,
And silence sounds no worse than cheers
After earth has stopped the ears:

Now you will not swell the rout
Of lads that wore their honours out,
Runners whom renown outran
And the name died before the man.

So set, before its echoes fade,
The fleet foot on the sill of shade,
And hold to the low lintel up
The still-defended challenge-cup.

And round that early-laurelled head
Will flock to gaze the strengthless dead,
And find unwithered on its curls
The garland briefer than a girl’s.





  1. Houseman wrote some incredible stuff. My throat gets all tight when I read some of it.

    I see you’re doing really well on your 52 letters challenge! Keep up the good work!

  2. I don’t think it’s just me being hormonal that has me crying at my desk after reading that poem. What a fitting poem to pair with the life and heroism of Martin Luther King, Jr.

    • Aww! I am glad you liked it. That has been one of my fave poems since I was in high school, and it really was the first thing that came to mind…the only thing. Thanks for commenting! 🙂

  3. Love it but you already know that………Granimal

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