Now, the boy is again being carried "shoulder-high" along "the road all runners come", and he has been set down at the threshold of "a stiller town."
Housman muses, apparently without irony, on some of the advantages of dying young that have accrued to the athlete. He has been a "smart lad" to slip away so early from earthly fields where glory is transient. On earth, the laurel may be quicker to grow than the rose, but it withers quicker too. The athlete will be spared the knowledge of his records on the field being broken and his "stopped ears" will not note the absence of cheers. Best of all, the boy will be spared the pain of watching his "honours" wear out-it cannot be said of him that "the name died before the man." Where he has gone "the strengthless dead" will flock around him to admire the laurel garland "briefer than a girl's" but ever "unwithered" round his head.
Robert Frost's "The Road Not Taken" laments the brief life and the inevitable death of a possibility spurned by a man on the horns of a dilemma.