Friday, August 24, 2012

Poetry of Olympia

With the Olympics now over, the NY Times points out that poetry used to be an Olympic event.
"The French visionary who revived the Olympics, Baron Pierre de Coubertin, always insisted Greek-style arts contests should be allowed alongside athletics. His dream was realized in 1912 at Stockholm, where literature, together with music, painting, sculpture and even architecture, became Olympic events in the so-called Pentathlon of the Muses, in which all submissions had to be “directly inspired by the idea of sport.”"

It was an Olympic event from 1912 until 1948.... although, of course, only amateur poets were allowed to compete.

Most of these poems have been lost to history.   No one now knows what the German equestrian Rudolf Binding wrote in his 1928 silver-medal winning “A Rider’s Instructions to His Lover,” nor the French rugby champion Charles Gonnet’s ode “Before the Gods of Olympia,” which won the bronze in Poetry in Paris in 1924

But one of the great lost Olympic poems, British poet Dorothy Margaret Stuart's 37-page “Sword Songs” (silver medal, 1924 Paris Olympics) is no longer lost.   New York Times writer Tony Perrottet tracked down a copy... in the New York Public Library.  He doesn't quote the whole poem, alas... but, still, he gives enough to get feel for what amateur poetry was like in 1924.  Guess we'll have to take a trip to the New York Public Library to read the whole thing!

1 comment:

Geoffrey A. Landis said...

Oops, the link to the New York Times article about British poet Dorothy Margaret Stuart's 37-page Olympic poem “Sword Songs” got accidentally mangled, but now I fixed it.


The poet doesn't invent. He listens. ~Jean Cocteau