Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Another article on xtri

Triathlon on a Grecian Urn
http://www.xtri.com/features_display.aspx?riIDReport=6188


John Keats’ Ode on a Grecian Urn encompasses everything that I love most about triathlon. The most intriguing parts of the poem for me are the paradoxes that weave throughout the entire text as well as the elusive meaning of the poem which enables everyone to experience it in their own unique way. Similar to Keats’ Ode, in triathlon each competitor experiences the race from their individual perspective and throughout the event may feel joy and pain intertwined as one. While Keats expounds upon the fantasy world of the figures trapped for an eternity on the urn, he interplays the dichotomy of their frozen time versus the reality of their lives if they were living creatures. The real world of pain and time is contrasted with a frozen unchanging existence of the figures on the urn. In a triathlon, during the pursuit of a goal each athlete faces similar paradoxes: life and death, joy and pain, desire and fear, participant and observer, beauty and truth. The beauty of the triathlon is the struggle each and every competitor faces in a quest of his or her true potential.


For me personally, the section of the poem that speaks most vividly is when Keats is addressing the pursuing lover on the urn.

Bold lover, never, never canst thou kiss,
Though winning near the goal - yet, do not grieve;
She cannot fade, though thou hast not thy bliss,
For ever wilt thou love, and she be fair!
Ah, happy, happy boughs! that cannot shed
Your leaves, nor ever bid the spring adieu;
And, happy melodist, unwearied,
For ever piping songs for ever new;
More happy love! more happy, happy love!
For ever warm and still to be enjoy'd,
For ever panting, and for ever young;

Standing at the starting line of a race, I imagine that I am the bold lover frozen on the urn ready for my moment to chase my beloved, my goal for the race. There is something magical about standing at the starting line of a race, it is akin to being a young fearless character on the urn frozen in time waiting for my moment to pursue an unreachable dream. While frozen there for an instant, anything is possible and my goals though just out of reach are still golden and lie just ahead of me.

As I get older so many doors in life are closed. As a child, anything is possible; I could have been an astronaut, doctor, the president, movie star, or on American Idol. But now, many things that once seemed possible are no longer as life forces each one of us to make choices and determine our own path in life. However, there is one place I know where any goal still seems possible and where I may control my own destiny; that is in the sport of triathlon. When I line up at the start of a race, anything is possible. It is simply me and my beloved, the goal that I have set out for myself, all I have to do is chase. When the gun goes off, I have the rare chance in life to once again pursue my dreams whatever they may be and make them a reality. It’s not just me, but every athlete out there starts the day frozen in time at the instance where his or her goals are there for the taking. In addition, each athlete must battle the paradoxes of joy or pain, hope or despair, to fight or surrender. At the end of the day, whether we win or lose life will continue with our friends and family, but for that brief moment in time, similar to the urn’s frozen time, each of us can choose to suspend the pain in an effort to reach that finish line. There is nothing sweeter than putting it all on the line, setting the bar high, and reaching that seemingly unattainable goal. And as triathletes, we have the chance to do this every time we toe the line.






THOU still unravish'd bride of quietness,
Thou foster-child of silence and slow time,
Sylvan historian, who canst thus express
A flowery tale more sweetly than our rhyme:
What leaf-fring'd legend haunt about thy shape
Of deities or mortals, or of both,
In Tempe or the dales of Arcady?
What men or gods are these? What maidens loth?
What mad pursuit? What struggle to escape?
What pipes and timbrels? What wild ecstasy?

Heard melodies are sweet, but those unheard
Are sweeter: therefore, ye soft pipes, play on;
Not to the sensual ear, but, more endear'd,
Pipe to the spirit ditties of no tone:
Fair youth, beneath the trees, thou canst not leave
Thy song, nor ever can those trees be bare;
Bold lover, never, never canst thou kiss,
Though winning near the goal - yet, do not grieve;
She cannot fade, though thou hast not thy bliss,
For ever wilt thou love, and she be fair!

Ah, happy, happy boughs! that cannot shed
Your leaves, nor ever bid the spring adieu;
And, happy melodist, unwearied,
For ever piping songs for ever new;
More happy love! more happy, happy love!
For ever warm and still to be enjoy'd,
For ever panting, and for ever young;
All breathing human passion far above,
That leaves a heart high-sorrowful and cloy'd,
A burning forehead, and a parching tongue.

Who are these coming to the sacrifice?
To what green altar, O mysterious priest,
Lead'st thou that heifer lowing at the skies,
And all her silken flanks with garlands drest?
What little town by river or sea shore,
Or mountain-built with peaceful citadel,
Is emptied of this folk, this pious morn?
And, little town, thy streets for evermore
Will silent be; and not a soul to tell
Why thou art desolate, can e'er return.

O Attic shape! Fair attitude! with brede
Of marble men and maidens overwrought,
With forest branches and the trodden weed;
Thou, silent form, dost tease us out of thought
As doth eternity: Cold Pastoral!
When old age shall this generation waste,
Thou shalt remain, in midst of other woe
Than ours, a friend to man, to whom thou say'st,
"Beauty is truth, truth beauty," - that is all
Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.

3 comments:

Greg Remaly said...

I love that poem, too, and it's great to read such an erudite, literary piece about triathlon and motivation. Were you an English major too?

VICKYFF said...

Scarves Scarves
Next year will be better this year, a slight malaise and fatigue
Wish all of the network of friends have a new start

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