Nine Gold Medal is a beautiful poem written by David Roth on a very well discussed topic- the spirit of sports, the values of fellow feeling and kind mentality. Here is a discussion of the whole poem in detail.
- Historical Context
- Explanation of the poem Stanza wise
- Figures of speech
- Imagery of the poem
David Roth wrote the poem “Nine Gold Medals” in connection with a special event happened in special Olympic in 1976. That Olympic was held in Washington. According to that incident a contestant fell down and the other two or three athletes helped him. They finished the line walking the distance together.
- Spectators: persons watching esp. an event or sports without taking part.
- block : the two starting blocks on the ground that runners push their feet against at the beginning of a race.
- resolved: determined
- poised: ready
- pistol: a starting pistol used to signal the start of a race.
- stumbled: hit his foot against something when he bagan to run and almost fell.
- staggered : lost balance.
- asphalt: black tarred road
- anguish: pain and disappointment
- dashed :destroyed
EXPLANATION (STANZA WISE)
The setting of the poem is an olympic game. It is special Olympic which gives an opportunity to the children or adults with intellectual disabilities to be in sports competition. We’ve all heard about the olympics where the athletes from various countries of the world participate with the only aim of winning medals (Gold, Silver or Bronze ).They prepare themselves by hard work throughout the year.
The first two lines of the poem speak of the run event (100 meters may be ). It is the most prestigious as the person winning the first position of that event is considered to be the fastest man on Earth. However the athletes who compete in Olympic, train themselves for weeks and months to get gold or silver or bronze medals. Gold medal is always for the winner or the fastest runner of the earth and silver and bronze are for the 2nd and 3rd of the competitions respectively. They all hope for the gold.
The spectators are the people who remain in the gallery to watch the sport. They are not active in the sport and they only enjoy the play of the contestants. The spectators were very excited to cheer and encourage the participants. Excitement is going to the higher level as the final event of the day is going to be happened.
Blocks are set on the ground and here from the runners start their run. The runners push their feet against these blocks and start running. Now these blocks were filled up with contestants. “Those who would use them”- this phrase refers to the contestants or runners who run the contest.
The hundred yard dash i.e. the hundred meter race was about to start and the athletes were on their blocks to run. There were nine contestants in the starting line and they were resolved. They were determined to run and win. They became ready or poised to hear the sound of the gun which was the signal of the start of the race.
The fourth stanza starts with the begining of the race. We often see that a race is signalled by a gun shot. As the gun explodes, the contestants start to run the race. So all the runners were charging ahead or running forward. But the smallest contestant of nine stumbled. He hit his foot against something. He staggered (lost balance). So he fell on the way. The word asphalt suggests the road made of black tar. This is the most unfortunate and painful accident happened with that contestant. He fell and couldn’t continue running.
“He gave out a cry in frustration and anguish”- This line reveals the feelings of a failed sportsperson. A sportsperson works hard throughout the years for a competition and a successful performance and also a win. But if failure occurs, nothing but the feelings of frustration and anguish cover him up.
Here that small person cried in frustration and anguish because he was unable to run the race and fell down. His dreams and all his efforts turn into failure and his dream was broken. The poet speaker is there as a spectator who stood there telling the story. At the same time he was waiting to say what would happen next.
All the eight runners started their run. They trained themselves for long time to get the winning taste. But they were affected by the one who failed to run. One by one stopped and turned to that contestant to help him. They brought the young boy to his feet. In this way the contestants forgot their dream to help a boy in distress. They took the way to noble cause.
Now the nine contestants joined hands and began to walk the hundred meter distance and to reach the finish line. This scene was under the banner named special olympics. Really it bears a special meaning revealing the speciality of this exemplary run of the contestants.
The race ended finally with nine winners . Nine contestants won the gold medal reaching the finish line together holding the hands together. The audience stood up and clapped. The participants of the race displayed empathy making it really a special event of Olympic.
The faces were reflecting a great spirit of joy and refreshment showing that they had done something completely generous and great. The distress of a single boy turns out to be the distress of the other eight. That was the spirit of sports and feelings of co-work and co-operative mindset.
- David Roth’s beautiful poem “Nine Gold Medals” has eight stanzas and each stanza contains four lines. The lines are not in a particular rhyme scheme.
- Sometimes the rhymes are visible. For example lines of the fourth stanza are rhymed together. The last two lines are also in regular rhyme.
- Anapestic meter is used in the first three stanzas. Iambic meter is also used occasionally.
- An example of spondee is also found in the phrase ‘nine gold’.
LITERARY DEVICES / FIGURES OF SPEECH
- The second line of the first stanza- metonymy ( one term is substituted for other, Top three positions in the event are suggested by the word ‘medals’.)
- 2nd stanza- personification ( ‘Excitement is growing high’ )
- 3rd stanza – metaphor
- Explosion of the pistol – ( onomatopoeia )
- Repeatation of the sounds like “stumbled”, “staggered”, “dashed in the dirt” example of alliteration.
Brotherhood, generous mentality, compassion, competition, collaboration, victory, loss etc. are the themes showed in the poem. Human compassion, generous mentality and universal brotherhood have bound the eight professional contestants to do a single thing, to help another who couldn’t run to fulfil his dream.
This reveals true meaning of collaboration apart from the competition, victory apart from the loss. They believe in the spirit of companionship even in the middle of the competition. The real victory of human passion and generous mindset is here.
- The description of the stadium, the image of athletes getting ready on the track, the young boy falling down and ‘special Olympic’ banner are all the visual images used by the poet to narrate the idea in the poem.
- The auditory image is there in the form of gunshot revealing the start of the run.