26 Miles, April 2013
I worked with creative writing organisation 26 on a project called 26 Miles, where each writer was given one mile of the London marathon to bring to life. I wrote a poetic montage of words first spoken or written by the men and women whose statues line mile 25-26.
Brightly shone the dawning day.
This morn brought forth a noble chance,
And chance brought forth noble knights.
Behind you there plodded comparatively slowly the dull brute mass,
Five hundred men, ordinary men; you stood together,
Put your feet in the right place, then stood firm.
You must learn to be equally good at what is short and sharp
And what is long and tough.
Your zeal for the cause must be raised to the highest intensity.
You shall not fail or falter; you shall not weaken or tire.
Your own resolution to succeed is more important than any other.
A man is not defeated by his opponents but by himself.
Be a slow walker, but never walk back.
Never flinch, never weary, never despair.
Even if it is a hard struggle you will not be the one who fails.
Be not concerned that you fall – be concerned that you arise.
You are not bound to win, but you are bound to be true.
You are not bound to succeed, but you are bound to live by the light that you have.
Let no feeling of discouragement prey upon you,
And in the end you are sure to succeed.
Never give in, never give in, never, never, never, never…
In nothing, great or small, large or petty.
When you reach the end of your rope, tie a knot and hang on.
Don’t be afraid to take a big step – you can’t cross a chasm in two small jumps.
Do the very best you know how, the very best you can,
And keep on doing so until the end.
Come, sportive muse,
Behold! Your rivals soar in air.
Go, ye heroes, go to glory
Ye shall live in song and story.
Be proud of the courage to brightly shine,
and take the line of a hero fine.
From your intention, well expressed, we cannot turn you
Does anyone want to give in? No! Are you down-hearted? No!
There is no flinching and no thought of giving in;
You yourselves never doubted it, and now find yourselves in a position where you have only to persevere to conquer.
Redouble your exertions, and strike with united strength while life and power remain.
And homeward come,
With beat of drum
And a rum-tum-tum,
And the brass will crash,
And the trumpets bray.
Then let the throng,
Our joy advance,
With laughing song,
And merry dance.
With joyous shout, with joyous shout and ringing cheer,
Inaugurate, inaugurate their brief career!
Everyone, man or woman, has done their best.
Far or near, everyone has tried.
God bless you all. This is your victory!
My dear friends, this is your hour, your solemn moment of triumph.
Thine the liberty, thine the glory, thine the deeds to be celebrated.
Here’s to the pilot that weathered the storm!
That some achieve great success, is proof to all that others can achieve it as well. Life is hard, but so very beautiful.
You will be ready, you will not flinch, you can take it again.
With thanks to WS Gilbert, Boadicea, Winston Churchill, David Lloyd George, Jan Christan Smuts, Viscount Palmerston, Abraham Lincoln and George Canning for lending me their words.
See the full project here.
All copy is reproduced here as it was supplied by Katie Treggiden to the client or publication.