To an Athlete Dying Young
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 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.
—— A.E. Housman
MAYBE I've been feeling unusually morbid lately, but this poem has been on my mind. It's been a favorite for many years. Um, okay, decades. It's one of those few works of art in which I am unable to find any flaw; every word seems perfect. Robert Graves once said that good poetry should make the hair stand up on the back of your neck. The last two verses of this poem definitely do it for me.
One doesn't want to wish anyone dead, of course, but the world is full of people, athletes and others, who outlive their fame and their accomplishments, and become depressing parodies of their former selves.
By popular demand (thpthpth!) I will be using Hepburn romaji in my daily kanji, instead of the Jorden/Noda romaji. Although there are certain advantages to the Jorden scheme, it is really non-intuitive for English speakers. Romaji are lame anyway. Even Jorden should have started using kana at least halfway through her first book.
meaning: high, expensive
koukou == high school
takai == expensive