I was intrigued by the result of the competition to find words, both suitable and powerful enough, to be engraved on a sculpture at the centre of the Olympic village in London. When the games are a distant memory (and maybe even the stadium!) these words in stone will endure as a legacy to the achievements we saw and shared.
The gold medal went to the last line from the poem Ulysses, by Alfred Lord Tennyson. ‘To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield’. Truly inspirational and not an unworthy winner.
Two other entries ran it very close.
In Variation on a Theme, Rainer Maria Rilke wrote, ‘And what I heard was my whole self saying and singing what it knew: I can’.
For me, first on the podium should have been Robert Browning’s line from Andrea Del Sarto. ‘Ah, but a man’s reach should exceed his grasp, Or what is heaven for?’
Phrases such as the ‘Theatre of Dreams’ are tossed away too easily these days and have been hijacked by clubs and commentators alike. How dare they? Historically and emotionally, only the Olympic arena has the right to call itself thus and only Browning’s words, I believe, reach for the stars.
Each to his own. But I think his line nails it.
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