WHAT DID MARKHAM HAVE IN MIND? I do not know what Edwin Markham had in mind when he penned this poem. Apparently he rides a horse. But in my mind’s eye I see 189 cyclists virtually sailing the countrysides, forests, meadows, and mountains of France in July. I see the misty hills of West Virginia I pedaled as a youth. I think also of recent bicycle rides through Indiana, my adopted home. What do you see?
I ride on the mountain tops, I ride;
I have found my life and am satisfied.
Onward I ride in the blowing oats,
Checking the field-lark's rippling notes --
Lightly I sweepFrom steep to steep:
Over my head through the branches high
Come glimpses of a rushing sky;
The tall oats brush my horse's flanks;
Wild poppies crowd on the sunny banks;
A bee booms out of the scented grass;
A jay laughs with me as I pass.
I ride on the hills, I forgive, I forget
Life's hoard of regret --
All the terror and pain
Of the chafing chain.
Grind on, O cities, grind:
I leave you a blur behind.
I am lifted elate -- the skies expand:
Here the world's heaped gold is a pile of sand.
Let them weary and work in their narrow walls:
I ride with the voices of waterfalls!
I swing on as one in a dream --
I swing Down the airy hollows, I shout, I sing!
The world is gone like an empty word:
My body's a bough in the wind, my heart a bird!