To An Athlete Dying Young

By: A.E. Houseman

 

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 where glory does not stay,

And early though the laurel grows

It wishers 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 honors out,

Runners whom reknown outran

And the name died before the man.

 

So set, before the 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 fine unwithered on its curls

The garland briefer than a girl's.