30 October 2011

W.H. Auden from "The Runner"

The poet W.H. Auden was commissioned by the National Film Board of Canada to write the commentary for a short film called "The Runner." He introduces the subject of the film like this:
It is meet we praise in our days fleet-footed
Bruce Kidd from Toronto.
The script includes prose and rhyme and, unexpectedly, a section of alliterative verse. Here is part:
(FIRST VOICE) Rivals should ride to the race together
Be firm friends.
                                (SECOND VOICE) Foolish is he
Who, greedy for victory, grits his teeth,
Frowns fiercely before contests,
And no neighbor.
                                  (FIRST VOICE) It is nice to win,
But sport shall be loved by losers also:
Foul is envy.
                           (SECOND VOICE) False are those
With warm words for the winner after
A poor race.
                         (FIRST VOICE) Pleasing to the ear
Are clapping crowds, but the cold stop-watch
Tells the truth.
                             (SECOND VOICE) There is time and place
For a fine performance. Fate forbids
Mortals to be at their best always.
God-given is the great day.
I found this under the title "Six Commissioned Texts" in Auden's Collected Poems. (pg. 610 in my edition).

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