If medieval Christians could be raised
From the dead and then confronted
By the amount of sporting activity which
The contemporary world takes for granted,
They would probably be horrified
And quickly elect to return to their graves again!
For such Christians would surely think
They had been returned, in time, to
An age of pagan physicality,
When bodily strength counted for everything
And the spirit, by contrast, for next-to-nothing!
For what is this recrudescence
Of physical competition to which
The modern world is especially partial
If not a kind of neo-pagan materialism,
Symptomatic of an intensive decadence
Peculiar to the age of the State?
Anyone who knew anything about the atom
Could be left in no doubt
That neutron and electron particles
Had conclusively triumphed over neutron wavicles
In the establishment of an anti-natural athleticism,
The antithetical equivalent to proton subnaturalism.
Yes, artificial physicality has triumphed,
Whether on the racing track or on the football field,
The golf course or the cricket pitch,
The bowling green or the tennis court,
The gym floor or the ice-skating rink,
In the swimming pool or in the boxing ring.
While some sport is still predominantly subnatural,
And thus literally neo-pagan, most of it
Is artificial, and thus strictly contemporary.
But it is all somehow symptomatic of state decadence,
And sometimes it is no less fatalistic
Than in the gladiatorial age of the barbaric ancients.
Mostly, however, it is relatively harmless
From the physical point-of-view, since
Electron equivalents are more disposed
To attraction than to reaction, and they
Tend to preponderate over anachronisms.
But, still, it all leaves something
To be desired from a spiritual point-of-view,
And you can take it from me
That if the state-oriented present is ever overcome,
And a new civilization duly developed,
There will be far less sporting activity around
In the future, such little as remains
Being largely, if not exclusively, sedentary and artificial,
Requiring no more than one player,
And he mainly a spectator.