Monday, March 1, 2010

Poetry Monday

It's not often you hear poetry quoted on sports shows but last night during the closing ceremonies of the Olympic games, they read the first two stanzas of A. E. Houseman's "To an Athlete Dying Young," in order to commemorate Georgian luge competitor Nodar Kumaritashvili, who died in a training run on the opening day. Here's the complete poem.

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 through 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 ladys that wore their honours out,
Runner 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 comment:

  1. Gave me chills when I heard it.
    Gave me chills when I read it.
    Thanks for posting it.