Moving things Spin or swing, One of the two, Move, as the limbs Of a runner do, To and fro, Forward and back, Or, as they swiftly Carry him In orbit go Round an endless track: So, everywhere, every Creature disporting Itself according To the law of its making In the rivals’ dance Of a balanced pair Or the ring-dance Round a common centre, Delights the eye By its symmetry As it changes place Blessing the unchangeable Absolute rest Of the space all share The camera’s eye Does not lie But it cannot show The life within, The life of a runner, Of yours or mine, That race which is neither Fast nor slow, For nothing can ever Happen twice, That story which moves Like music when Begotten notes New notes beget Making the flowing Of time a growing Till what it could be At last it is, Where Fate is Freedom, Grace, and Surprise.
Wilma Rudolph (USA) wins the 100 m at the 1960 Olympics
In 1960 W.H. Auden was commissioned to write a poem for a BBC programme about athletics - presumably tied in with the Olympic Games which were held that year in Rome. My favourite section of 'The Runner' is the opening of the second stanza: 'The camera’s eye, Does not lie, But it cannot show, The life within, The life of a runner' . A reminder that we can never see the interior life of the athlete - or anybody else.