Friday, 20 April 2012

upstream nymph

From the starting stone at Putney
Through the choppy spring tide current
Flew the dark-haired raven's daughter
Winner of the golden tossing
Steering on the Surrey station
Eking out a length's advantage
Threading like a homing salmon
Past the yuppie flat conversions
Filled with bankers bonus audi
Still the race maintains its magic
Rupert Brookeish young and tragic
Fresh-faced youths in clinging singlets
Bonny lads from Caius and Pembroke
Training through the vicious winter
For a single chance at glory
Before joining moneygrubbers;
Now the bend is helping Cambridge
Easing out past Eel Pie Island
Raven's daughter heads towards them
Blades are clashing oaths are flying
Umpire yells to stop the melee
Now we see the second lamppost
Smoothly under Cambridge trailing
Lactic acid cramping muscles
Pain in sixteen godlike bodies
Still the cox must keep the rhythm
Drive her men the final mile;
Chiswick eyot where lissom osiers
Wave the rowers on their way
Now the steps flash past to starboard
Neck and neck the boats arrayed
Now she asks for extra power
Forty strokes to win the day
Cambridge spot her wily tactic
Match her spurt and pull away
Last year's loss Light Blues avenging
Bridge of Barnes the final play
Must select the central channel
Cambridge through and Oxford slain
Dark Blue hubris damp and broken
Toledo's blades have flashed in vain

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