SPORT

 

                                      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.