When Sheridan Hurled The Discus

by Joseph Ignatius Constantine Clarke

Joseph Ignatius Constantine Clarke

"Pinch me; ay, punch me, for fear I m not sitting here reading the paper.
Sure as the sun in the morning lights Mangerton Mountain in Kerry;
Sure as I m Shea, and ye re Kelly and Burke, my boys; sure as we re Irish,
There in the land of the Greeks, at the scratch in the games of Olympus,
Sheridan's swing from the shoulder has landed him
Champion at Athens."
"Champion of what?" cried out Kelly. "Why, champion at hurling the discus."
"Holy St. Patrick!" said Burke, "'twas the game of the splendid Greek heroes.
Read every word of it; lilt it in music like Homer's hexameters."
"Sheridan, slantha!" said Shea, who, wiping his lips, began reading:
"(Cable from Athens by way of Parnassus to Mulligan's Journal.)
"Lastly came Sheridan, Irish-American, throwing the discus.
Taking his stand in the stadium under the shade of Pentelicus,
Broad of chest, sinewy, long-armed and supple a Gael of Old Mayo.
Thousands and thousands of living spectators are waving and cheering.
Hovering over them, lo, too, a myriad silent and ghostly,
Out of the past when the Parthenon's pillars first rose in the sunlight:
Pallas, the Goddess of Athens, is bending her black brows upon him,
Phoebus Apollo, the sun god, leans from his chariot gazing,
Ares, the god of the sword, and Hephaestus, the god with the hammer,
Smile on the Gael who is stripping his arms, and uplifting the discus.
"Sages and poets and rulers, whose names are as planets forever,
Dim eyed and mistlike look down on the pageant: Pericles brooding,
Socrates dreaming, and Sophocles seeing new dramas unrolling,
Sheridan standing the while as he takes a full breath from th AEgean.
"Up where the violet turreted city looks over the water,
Soldiers of Salamis, heroes of Marathon, helmeted, sworded,
Seeing the muscle-free grace of the Gael, and the mould of his torso,
Look from the clouds in a shadowy phalanx, asking each other:
"Comes back to earth our Androsthenes, greatest at hurling the discus?"
"Hushed now the judges and thousands of on
lookers packed on the benches.
Sheridan poises his body, and glances along to the
Slowly he raises the discus, and, balanced an in
stant, seems pausing.
Swift as a panther, then, whirling his arm and his body and bending,
Hurls the broad discus that rises and sweeps thro the blue like an eagle,
On, ever on, till it seems it would never more touch the green sod of Athene.
"Silence! A pause, then a shout like the thunder that rolls on Olympus.
Never in Greece of the pagan has cast of the discus outreached it;
Never in Greece of the Christian has cast of the discus come near it!
Thousands are shouting the praise of the victor, and hymning his glory.
Green flag and gold harp are floating above the green turf of old Hellas.
Sheridan! Sheridan! Erinn in Mikla will love you and cheer you:
Feast of the Greeks, you have made their Olympic the goal of the Gael"
"Thunder an turf!" sang out Burke. "It is great!
Rise, Kelly, and holler!
Gaelic and Greek may go dancing and laughing along through the ages,
Singing a poean together, while Latin, Dutch, Saxon and Russian
Pipe into whistle-sticks fit for small children. So Kelly, come holler!"
"Holler !" said Kelly. "It's not so surprising to beat out them dagoes.
Sheridan s great, but our fathers broke records when Greece was barbarian.
Mind you the story of Lia Lamh Laich by the ford of the Shannon:
Twenty men dead at one swoop of the stone that was flung by young Finn.
Think of the spear cast of mighty Cuchullin, and twenty more like it,
Telling the world that the Gael asks no favor in sport or in battle.
Not where three men or three hundred sit drinking the health of the hero,
Sounds the true bellnote that booms for the fame that's immortal.
There look you upward to-night twill be heard in a chime and full measure,
Ringing the glory of Ireland, the mother of men of live muscle;
Heard when great Herakles, rising and throwing
his club on his shoulder,
Crosses the star spangled pavement of heaven, and,
pointing to Athens,
Shouts in good Irish that wakes up St. Peter:
Shake hands, Finn MacCool."

Last updated January 14, 2019