Pindaric Ode to Sir Eion Edgar

Strophe I

the man does not stand on ceremony
who gives abundantly to Sport
and Medicine - knows life is caught
better in competitive harmony
when the body is taught
peace and health - instead of acrimony.
Otago is the province
that knows the ripe munificence
of the ready grape - comb of gold
in seams - the heavy fleece - the shaping moulds
of sound training and Sports Science.
it is time Otago took hold
of that quiet magnificence -
professional and amateur
in their codes - realised Sir Eion Edgar
is our truest civic exemplar -

Antistrophe I

unlike the Larnachs’ retro-Gothic vault
and castle - the one falling down
the other preserved still grounded -
a glass cage on a dune. moral revolt
against decline re-founded
Otago - refused tragic fault.
a civilised man will surround
himself with others’ success - put despair
and tragedy away - to lift
the game so that everyone shares.
his careful alchemy is the gift -
that comes from the province’s gold - its shift
to Artificial Intelligence -
farms and Forsyth Barr’s skill and thrift
in between. discipline and forbearance
have saved the South from indigence.

Epode I

local legend is opposed to myth.
history has only happened off-shore.
Cromwell and Naseby are hardly Gore.
sporting victories are the Sabbath
striven for. a land without megaliths
will go for the stadium
rather than the Rostrum or podium
waiting for the homeside to score.
government is best as a sporting code -
law without a visible mode
accomplishing itself to the crowd’s roar
till at last emotion implodes
leaving after an excited quiet.
disorders treated at their core -
aggression denied its riot
rivalry put on a proper diet.

Strophe II

the good business leader is a sportsman
or sportswoman using money -
to achieve for their company
in the first place - but also apportion
success to supporters. honey
is the bees’ capital - are they hoarders
or are they the builders of wealth
rather - and providers of health ?
diabetes and eating disorders
are treated by philanthropy
as well as by new therapies
that are non-invasive - almost by stealth.
a course of treatment starts with sympathy
and respect. this is why doctors
are named with sports poet Pindar
in the same breath as Sir Eion Edgar.

Antistrophe II

for goodness has its own intelligence -
for finding scope and liberty.
maybe it is calm ecstasy
like the bees’ and indifferent vigilance
for others - the self-forgetting
when we stand in diligent
attention - outside ourselves
at another’s promise of perfecting
life or skill. then what we are regretting
is not a lifetime’s cleared shelves
but the so very much more that gels
together. Love is as strong
as Death - sings the Song of Songs.
such gifts will win - so long as they are held
in trust - and do not join the throng
of things for which our want was wrong.

Epode II

even poetry learns some astuteness
from this example. after whale
song in the abyss - gun salutes -
Te Deums composed just to hail
pomps of selfhood at its institution -
democracy and fair play
team colours team kit are displayed -
reintroduced into the range of verse.
Pindar can be done on a scale
that empowers individuals
through the group. tell us which is worse -
hard training and its long vigils
or discovering you are residual ?
Sport gives and takes various ways -
nothing to do with being reimbursed.
time is the field in which we are immersed.

Strophe III

the extreme joy at living is what
we give or nothing is given
at all. the truth about heaven
is that it is game without plot
without a who or reason why -
self-organised without the jot
of adequate excuse. life is a cry
for help or some kind of answer.
it does not matter if the sky
is black or riven apart - the chancers
on risk may also be dancers
on bliss - if the giving is shared.
money grows from that right kind of leaven
and if worth is more than enhanced -
the dark breaks when goodness is dared.
joy accomplishes what words cannot bear -

Antistrophe III

since silence is the trait of the donor.
language is kept from being false
by the over time-increasing pulse
of live gift. Otago is the owner
now of this good reticence.
what is to become of a store
of endowment without impediments ?
Otago Sport and Medicine
have known more victories than at war.
the province is not a loner
at success but a leader forward
in action; - Self secure enough
to be effaced - and revulsed
not being with the team. the stuff
of heroes is the Self as sediment -
greywacke in river and bluff.

Epode III

no harm comes of calm - it is silence
that is the worry. Love may match
silence’s strength - not in snatches
spoken aloud but salience
such as voices give words passing
blockchained - timestamped into batches.
twilight watches us in the pierglass
while we do our utmost to catch
transparent day - since we too have license -
we can do the same - grade or class
notwithstanding. Eion - your reliance
on us is not an error.
scrums are a Rugby match’s demurrer -
boardrooms find doubt a warped mirror.
refounded so - Otago is fairer -
moral horizons brought a lot nearer.

Woodford Halse
7-12 June 2021

I refer to The Song of Songs 8.6 and to Pindar’s Pythian Odes. Forsyth Barr is Sir Eion’s company. Gore is a town across the border of Otago in Southland, that makes for a good homonym.

The Larnachs were a family of magnates and suicides in 19th century Dunedin, whose tragic story has yet to find its Ibsen. Strophe III was written at the Griffin Tavern at Chipping Warden on the evening of 11 June.