A Mighty Runner

(1977)

"A Happy Man" is the second song in Frank Lewin's Variations of Greek Themes.

"A Mighty Runner" has the character of a toccata with a whiff of the sports march. Numbers mentioned in the poem are represented musically by instruments moving in parallel fifths, sevenths, fourths, and elevenths. In keeping with the traditional depiction of runners, voice and flute (here a piccolo) are led canonically.

A Mighty Runner (Nicarchus)
by Edwin Arlington Robinson


The day when Charmus ran with five\t
In Arcady, as I’m alive,\t
He came in seventh.—“Five and one\t
Make seven, you say? It can’t be done.”—
Well, if you think it needs a note,\t
A friend in a fur overcoat\t
Ran with him, crying all the while,\t
“You’ll beat ’em, Charmus, by a mile!”\t
And so he came in seventh.\t
Therefore, good Zoilus, you see\t
The thing is plain as plain can be;\t
And with four more for company,\t
He would have been eleventh.


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