A verse on the 1908 London Marathon

Found- a rare and forgotten slim volume Verses by one Norman Grieve privately published in 1912.  A handwritten note loosely inserted in the book says that Norman William Grieve was director of the Anglo-Ceylon and General Estates Company Ltd. (12950 acres, half tea, 40% forest – the rest cocoa, coffee and cardamons.) He  had interests in Mauritius and also dealt in rubber. The poems are on a variety of subjects – Canada, Golf, Marconi and this topical poem about the Italian runner Dorando Pietri. Pietri finished first in the marathon at the 1908 Summer Olympics in London but was subsequently disqualified. He became something of a hero at the time and met the Queen…

Dorando_portret

The Marathon Race

(Olympia Dorando in First but Disqualified)

“Only a Race,” you say, and yet conceive

The bitter pangs of that brave heart –

Foremost of all the runners, there in sight

The goal, then deathly weariness

And the overwhelming shout of all those watchers:

What anguish! the longed-for laurels

Almost in his grasp, and yet how distant.

O God, to my tired body give

Strength to run out the Course and gain the wreath

For my beloved Italy!

At length with tottering steps and many a fall,

And the too willing help of friends,

That dauntless spirit passed the allotted bourne,

Then prostrate sank in deathly swoon.

___________________________

All honour to the brave Italian Boy,

Who, though alas, he missed the crowning joy,

Shall live for ever in a nation’s heart,

Consoled by Queenly hands that soothed the smart.

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