Patinage Poetry: The Language Of The Ice (Part Quatre)


How doth I love skating? Let me count the ways... Just prior to the Sochi Olympics, I put together the blog's first collection of poetry about skating called "Patinage Poetry: The Language Of The Ice". The topic of skating poetry has recurred often on the blog, in "Georg Heym: The Skating Prophet" and "Canada's Valentine" and the second and third editions of "Patinage Poetry". Guess what? I just can't get enough! The fourth installment in this series is chock full of wonderful gems from Williams Haynes and Joseph LeRoy Harrison's 1919 collection "Winter Sports Verse". Put on your beret and get ready to snap afterwards for another fabulous collection of historical skating poetry:

PRELUDE FROM "THE VISION OF SIR LAUNFAL" BY JAMES RUSSELL LOWELL

Down swept the chill wind from the mountain peak,
From the snow five thousand summers old;
On open world and hill-top bleak
It had gathered all the cold,
And whirled it like sleet on the wanderer's cheek;
It carried a shiver everywhere
From the unleafed boughs and pastures bare;
The little brook heard it and built a roof
'Neath which he could house him, winter-proof;
All night by the white stars' frosty gleams
He groined his arches and matched his beams;
Slender and clear were his crystal spars
As the lashes of light that trim the stars:
He sculptured every summer delight
In his halls and chambers out of sight;
Sometimes his tinkling waters slipt
Down through a frost-leaved forest-crypt,
Long, sparkling aisles of steel-stemmed trees
Bending to counterfeit a breeze;
Sometimes the roof no fretwork knew
But silvery mosses that downward grew;
Sometimes it was carved in sharp relief
With quaint arabesques of ice-fern leaf;
Sometimes it was simply smooth and clear
For the gladness of heaven to shine through, and here
He had caught the nodding bulrush-tops
And hung them thickly with diamond drops,
Which crystal led the beams of moon and sun,
And made a star of every one:
No mortal builder's most rare device
Could match this winter-palace of ice.

"THE SKAITER'S MARCH" (COMPOSED FOR SKATERS AT THE EDINBURGH SKATING CLUB BY CHARLES DIBDIN)

This snell and frosty morning,
With rhind the trees adorning.
Tho' Phoebus be below?
Through the sparkling snow,
A skating we go,
With a fal, lal, lal, lal, lal, lal,
To the sound of the merry, merry horn.

From the right to left we're plying,
Swifter than winds we're flying,
Spheres with spheres surrounding,
Health and strength abounding,
In circles we sweep,
With a fal, lal, lal, lal, lal, lal,
To the sound of the merry, merry horn.

Our poise we still keep,
Behold how we sweep,
The face of the deep,
With a fal, lal, lal, lal, lal, lal,
To the sound of the merry, merry horn.

Great Jove looks down with wonder,
To view his sons of thunder,
Tho' the water he seal,
We rove on our heel,
Our weapons are steel,
And no danger we feel,
With a fal, lal, lal, lal, lal, lal,
To the sound of the merry, merry horn.

See the Club advances,
See how they join the dances,
Horns and trumpets sounding,
Rocks and hills resounding,
Let Tritons now blow,
For Neptune below,
His beard dares not shew,
Or call us his foe,
With a fal, lal, lal, lal, lal, lal,
To the sound of the merry, merry horn.

"THE HOODOO" BY JAMES WHITCOMB RILEY

Owned a pair o' skates once
Traded fer 'em,
Stropped 'em on and waded
Up and down the crick, a-waitin'
Tel she'd freeze up fit fer skatin'.
Mildest winter I remember--
More like Spring- than Winter-weather!--
Didn't frost tel 'bout December-
Git up airly ketch a' feather
Of it, maybe, 'crost the winder--
Sunshine swings it like a cinder!

Well - I waited - and kep' waitin'!
Couldn't see my money's w'oth in
Them-air skates and was no skatin',
Ner no hint o' ice ner nothin'!
So, one day - along in airly
Spring - I swopped 'em off 0 and barely
Closed the dicker, 'fore the weather
Natchurly jes' slipped the ratchet,
And crick-tail-race - all together,
Froze so tight cat couldn't scratch it!

"SKATER AND WOLVES" BY GEORGE HERBERT CLARKE

Swifter the flight! Far, far and high
The wild air shrieks its savage cry,
And all the earth is ghostly pale,
While the young skater, strong and hale,
Skims fearlessly the forest by.
Hush! shrieking blast, but wail and sigh!
Well sped, O skater, fly thee, fly!
Mild moon, let not thy glory fail!
Swifter the flight!

O, hush thee, storm! thou canst not vie
With that low summons, hoarse and dry.
He hears, and oh! his spirits quail, -
He laughs and sobs within the gale,
On, anywhere! He must not die, -
Swifter the flight!

"OF SKATING" BY COULSON KERNAHAN

She's just at my back, and
She sees me, I'm certain.
I'll show I'm a crack hand;
She's just at my back, and -
But something goes crack, and
I'd best just draw the curtain;
She's just at my back, and
She sees me, I'm certain.

"SKATING" BY JAMES GATES PERCIVAL

We speed o'er the star-lighted mirror along,
And the wood and the mountain re-echo our song.
As on, like the wing of the eagle, we sweep,
Now gliding, now wheeling, we ring o'er the deep.
The winds whistle keenly, - the red cheek is warm,
And there 's none who would yield not his breast to the storm.

The stars are above us, so full and so bright,
And the mirror below us is gemmed with their light.
Like the far-wheeling hawk, in the mid-air we fly;
A sky is above us, - below us a sky.
As onward we glide in our race, we keep time;
And clear as the morning bell echoes our chime.

By pine-covered rock, and by willow-bound shore,
Breast even with breast, like a torrent we pour.
Short, quick are our strokes, as we haste to the mark,
And shrill is our cry, as the trill of the lark.
The goal is now reached, and we bend us away,
Wide wheeling, or curving in fanciful play.

How fondly I loved, when my life-blood was young, -
When buoyant my heart, and my limbs newly strung, -
When the friends of my childhood were round me and near, -
O'er the dark lake to sweep in our sounding career;
And high beat my soul, with enthusiast glow,
As a clear-ringing music was pealing below.

We heeded no danger, - we carelessly flew
O'er a deep, that in darkness was lost to our view;
And onward we rushed, in the heat of our strife,
As, o'er danger and ruin, we hurry through life.
So we sped in our flight, as on pinions along,
And the wood and the mountain re-echoed our song.

Skate Guard is a blog dedicated to preserving the rich, colourful and fascinating history of figure skating and archives hundreds of compelling features and interviews in a searchable format for readers worldwide. Though there never has been nor will there be a charge for access to these resources, you taking the time to 'like' on the blog's Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/SkateGuard would be so very much appreciated. Already 'liking'? Consider sharing this feature for others via social media. It would make all the difference in the blog reaching a wider audience. Have a question or comment regarding anything you have read here or have a suggestion for a topic related to figure skating history you would like to see covered? I'd love to hear from you! Learn the many ways you can reach out at http://skateguard1.blogspot.ca/p/contact.html.

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