Olympia XI


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Old Time, Old Shifting Trade-Time there is for the luffing sheets,
for the shipmates ciying out for a blast to drive them home;
and Time there is for the flash flood, Rain,
Son-at-Arms from the thunderbreast of Sky.
But once let a man catch fire,
wring some triumph out of the grit of combat:
then my underrun of music,
a founding-stone for annals building against the years,
will mount at the last, an unaging pledge to the works of Greatness;

over the seas of Envy, surge and spring, my votive tablet,
shoring up from your bed of Olympic wreaths perennial!
No, go slow, my heart, slower, lips,
straining to rear this win and make it bear.
God is the Gardener. All our primes,
flowering out on the coiling force of skill,
yours and mine entwining, stem
from Him alone. Yes Agesidamus, trust to it now
that you're living up to your gift for fists, you sprig of Archestratus,
now, this talisman cast in song-I fling it over your olive wreath
to blaze its bloom of gold and the stock of Locris
where the West Wind waits to fill our sails.
Muse at the cutwater, O my Convoy!
Take this warrant, taut as our cords:
no camp of provincials armed to the teeth to warm
us in as guests, no, nor bludgeon-artists put to rout
by a piece of fine old work; no, in the haven you and I
will raise the craftsmen grasp the heights,
the spearmen hit the grand finesse forever.
Show me a Trade that sloughs them off-
the eyes of the vixen glittering Guile,
or the rival of thunder, the lion's exultation-
all the marks of birth that vault to Triumph on our rushing blood.

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