Bicycle Diaries: McCarthy's <i>Bicycle rider</i>

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26.10.06

McCarthy's Bicycle rider

I will not say
GO SLOW or GO GENTLE...


As we move into the final days of the US Congressional campaigns, we should remember the Democratic Senator from Minnesota and 1968 presidential candidate, Eugene McCarthy. His success as the anti-war candidate in the New Hampshire Primaries convinced President Johnson to forgo the Democratic nomination.

Years later, McCarthy wrote the following poem. It expresses fatherly confidence in his daughter, Mary.
Teeth bare to the wind
Knuckle-white grip on the handlebars
You push the pedals of no return,
Let loose new motion and speed.
The earth turns with the multiplied
Force of your wheels.
Do not look back.
Feet light on the brake
Ride the bicycle of your will
Down the spine of the world,
Ahead of your time, into life
I will not say Go Slow.
The don't look back sentiment reminds me of Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night. Dylan Thomas wrote it during the final illness of his father, D. J. Thomas. So instead, this poem focuses on the don't look back life as it approaches death. In other words: speed, speed until the very end.
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lighting they
Do not go gently into that good night.
Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
And you, my father, there on the sad height,
Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

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