Olympic Dream

I was recently alerted to Benjamin Zephaniah’s brilliant reading of ‘Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night’ by Dylan Thomas. This was filmed as part of the Poetry Society’s Page Fright project and can be found here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vaH2XO7z4l4. This poem is a villanelle – a form of poem where the first and third lines are repeated in a specific pattern, giving an intense and rhythmic feel. Sylvia Plath’s ‘Mad Girl’s Love Song’ is another example.

This reminded me of my own attempt at a villanelle, which it seems appropriate to share at this time with its Olympic theme…

Olympic Dream

(A villanelle)

They always said that she would go for gold:
No schoolgirl dream – she pushed for each last stride.
Classmates withdrew and watched the games unfold.

At ten, she raced; at twelve long limbs ran bold,
collected trophies, fuelled parental pride –
they always said that she would go for gold.

No time for boys, a girl whose soul was sold.
Friends dated, loved – a world she was denied,
so she withdrew and watched their games unfold.

They told her once that she would break the mould,
show others how, with work, you turn the tide,
and, as they said, she knew she’d go for gold.

For ten long years she trained, Olympics rolled
within her reach, opponents pushed aside.
Her coach withdrew and watched the games unfold.

Crouched at start-line, her breath, her life on hold,
she stood, then walked away – something had died.
They always said that she would go for gold,
but she withdrew, then watched The Games unfold.

2 thoughts on “Olympic Dream

  1. Thank you, Anne.
    I have always loved Dylan’s and Sylvia Plath’s poetry. You have caught the rhythm beautifully and as with their poems there is a twist or sadness at the end. One is left with the question “why”?
    How is the job going and life in general?
    All the best


    • Thanks Sally. The job is a non-event – they withdrew the offer following a disagreement between HR and the appointing manager about what constituted an ‘equivalent’ qualification. I had had the offer in writing and already filled in all their personnel, pension and payroll paperwork. I am left wondering if this has spiritual significance and is telling me something (?it’s not the time to return to mainstream employment yet?) or is it just incredibly annoying and very bad practice on their part. I have previously worked for the organisation (an NHS Trust) in a higher band role and for two other NHS Trusts in jobs requiring the same qualification. It’s a mess! In the meantime I am at Woodbrooke Quaker Study Centre and working hard on a research scholarship.


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