Ode to the Olympic Torch

by Marie Marshall

It’s parody time. The Olympic torch is passing through Scotland at present, and I recalled that four years ago, during the previous Olympiad, I wrote a parody of an ode for a little competition. Basically it is twenty-four lines split into two stanzas, but the underlying structure is six quatrains in alternating lines of iambic tetrameter and pentameter. It limps and hirples like mad and it occurred to me, after starting the first four lines with the apostrophic ‘O’, to start every line with that letter – but remember, this isn’t serious art, it’s a total mickey-take. Enjoy.

O Torch, O thou eternal flame,
    O thou Olympic, ever-burning spark,
O ardent one of Attic fame,
    O thou who lightest up the noisome dark
Of ignorance with searing fire,
    Oh draw’st thou nigh me like some little sun?
Or art thou that bright, burnished lyre
    Osiris bears, who through the heav’ns doth run?
Occult and cryptic, arcane match –
    Obsidian thy sky – thou twinkling star;
Obtuse am I – may I thee catch?
    Oracular, as all such visions are,
Of stuff unknown to mortal mind…
    Ought I to kneel, ought I to bow my head
Obsequiously? And dost thou find
    Our dully-mortal clay both cold and dead?

O Torch, I’ll carry thee by hand –
    Oceanus’ waves must not put out thy glow –
O’er hills; through ev’ry foreign land
    Or continent my feet shall boldly go.
On, on, and onward still I press,
    O’ercome by naught but pride – I shall not tire!
O Torch, illuminate and bless…
    Oh bloody hell – my chiton’s gone on fire!