Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, TO THE DISCUS THROWER, by VIRGINIA LYNE TUNSTALL



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TO THE DISCUS THROWER, by            
First Line: Shimmering fabrics, broidered with bright threads
Last Line: Wrapped in your cloak of stainless nudity!
Subject(s): Mythology - Classical; Track Athletics; Running Races; Pole Vaulting; Discus Throwing; Shot Putting; Running Hurdles


(Seen in a distant room, beyond a fashionable assemblage.)

Shimmering fabrics, broidered with bright threads
Of gleaming metal, and the winking eyes
Of jewels, caught in cunning webs of gold
And burnished silver, delicately wrought; --
Lustre of satin, tawny depths of fur,
Gay plumage of strange birds, and sly perfume
Which sets a silken snare to catch the will,
And bends the mind to strange and soft devices; --
All these I knew and loved, but suddenly
Beyond the crowd I saw your alien grace,
Heroic youth, austere and passionless!

What fellow had you in the ancient town,
Or what competitor to spur you on
To do brave deeds for Zeus, and on what fare
Was fed your shining length of flesh and brawn?
Did young eyes sparkle when you triumphed there,
And was your mother proud to see her son
A man full grown, an athlete to be feared,
Contender in Olympic games, who led
The bay wreathed hosts of the victorious?
For victor you must be, although unthrown
Your discus. A kingly mold is yours,
And all the lineaments of your face
And head were fashioned for the laurel crown!

Oh conqueror of time and dust and death,
Bright avatar of immortality,
Hurl, hurl your discus! Let the modern world
Of smug conceit and dull indifference
Be shattered by its impact, and let man
Wake to the vision, hearken to the dream!
Let him find joy in simple things again,
In games and laughter, poetry and song.
Teach him to know his body as a shrine,
A holy place where burns the vital spark
Of that great fire which warms humanity.

All this I pondered, and the dusty soul
Beneath the fine array surrounding me
Stood suddenly revealed a tawdry thing,
And you alone were high and clean and pure,
Wrapped in your cloak of stainless nudity!





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