Regular readers will have seen my posts on the Tour de France 2012, a race I have been writing about (almost) every year with a particular eye on the scenery. This amazing cycling race finished yesterday with a fourth consecutive sprint win win on the Champs-Élysées in Paris for Briton Mark Cavendish. However, the highest honour of the coveted yellow jersey for overall winner went to Bradley Wiggins who becomes the first ever Briton to win the Tour outright, with another Briton Chris Froome close behind in second place. All three are part of the British Team Sky, placed second in the team competition. This has been a great Tour with wonderful scenery and many thrills and spills. It has finished not far ahead of the London 2012 Olympics where we will be watching and cheering both Wiggins and Cavendish as they contest cycling medals.
In the light of all this it seemed appropriate to find a poem in honour of the achievements of both Wiggins and Cavendish as well as Froome and the entire Sky Team who all worked so well together. ‘Chapeau!’
Freewheeling down the escarpment past the unpassing horse
Blazoned in chalk the wind he causes in passing
Cools the sweat of his neck, making him one with the sky,
In the heat of the handlebars he grasps the summer
Being a boy and to-day a parenthesis
Between the horizon’s brackets; the main sentence
Is to be picked up later but these five minutes
Are all to-day and summer. The dragonfly
Rises without take-off, horizontal,
Underlining itself in a sliver of peacock light.
And glaring, glaring white
The horse on the down moves within his brackets,
The grass boils with grasshoppers, a pebble
Scutters from under the wheel and all this country
Is spattered white with boys riding their heat-wave,
Feet on a narrow plank and hair thrown back
And a surf of dust beneath them. Summer, summer —
They chase it with butterfly nets or strike it into the deep
In a little red ball or gulp it lathered with cream
Or drink it through closed eyelids; until the bell
Left-right-left gives his forgotten sentence
And reaching the valley the boy must pedal again
Left-right-left but meanwhile
For ten seconds more can move as the horse in the chalk
Moves unbeginningly calmly
Calmly regardless of tenses and final clauses
Calmly unendingly moves.
Louis MacNeice (1907–1963)
Irish poet and playwright, born Frederick Louis, although he dropped his first name on leaving Marlborough School. He was one of a group of 1930s poets, including W H Auden, Stephen Spender and Cecil Day-Lewis. He studied classics at Oxford eventually being appointed as Assistant Lecturer in Classics at the University of Birmingham, later working for the BBC. His work acknowledges his Irish roots and has inspired many poets particularly those from Northern Ireland. More recently there has been a move to bring him out of the shadow of Auden and reclaim him as an Irish writer.
Fortunato Depero (1892-1960)
A futurist painter, writer, sculptor and graphic designer born in the Italian region of Trentino initially apprenticed to a marble worker. He was inspired by the work of the futurist movement on a trip to Florence before moving to Rome where he met fellow futurist Giacomo Balla and then eventually travelling to the USA. Many of his works are featured in the permanent collection of the Mart (the Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art of Trento and Rovereto) with the Casa d’Arte Futurista Depero, Italy’s only museum dedicated to the Futurist movement, opened in 1959 and fulfilling one of Depero’s long held ambitions, containing 3,000 objects.