Monday, July 5, 2010


Poet Edwin Markham expresses the thrill of cycling

I do not know what Edwin Markham had in mind when he penned this poem.  In my mind’s eye I see 198 cyclists virtually sailing the forest, meadow, and mountain in the Tour de France.  I see misty hills of West Virginia, where I grew up.  I think also of innumerable bicycle rides through the Indiana, where I’ve now lived for over 30 years.  I ride in this spirit, with this sense of joy, and offer the poem in tribute to the TdF participants.  May their pain be eclipsed by such joy.

I ride on the mountain tops, I ride;
I have found my life and am satisfied.
Onward I ride in the blowing oats,
Checking the field-lark's rippling notes --
   Lightly I sweep
   From steep to steep:
Over my head through the branches high
Come glimpses of a rushing sky;
The tall oats brush my horse's flanks;
Wild poppies crowd on the sunny banks;
A bee booms out of the scented grass;
A jay laughs with me as I pass.

I ride on the hills, I forgive, I forget
   Life's hoard of regret --
   All the terror and pain
   Of the chafing chain.
   Grind on, O cities, grind:
   I leave you a blur behind.
I am lifted elate -- the skies expand:
Here the world's heaped gold is a pile of sand.
Let them weary and work in their narrow walls:
I ride with the voices of waterfalls!

I swing on as one in a dream -- I swing
Down the airy hollows, I shout, I sing!
The world is gone like an empty word:
My body's a bough in the wind, my heart a bird!

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