This one’s been percolating in various papers for the past couple of days, but the Telegraph takes it that extra step by providing the text (which I’ve been waiting for):
Mr Johnson, who studied classics at Oxford, will recite the poem that he commissioned for the Games in both Greek and English.
The ode was created by Oxford academic Armand D’Angour who wrote the poem in ancient Greek with modern lyrics and then translated the six verses into rhyming couplets.
The English version includes puns on athletes names such a “lightning bolt” which is a reference to world record holder Usain Bolt. The poem also includes notes to London 2012 chairman Lord Coe, diver Tom Daley and volleyball captain Ben Pipes.
The Mayor said: ‘I am delighted to have the opportunity to declaim Dr D’Angour’s glorious Olympic Ode at the Opening Gala, a work that breathes new life into the ancient custom of celebrating the greatness of the Games through poetry.
“I have no doubt that the members of the International Olympic Committee are fully versed in ancient Greek, but to ensure the elaborate puns can be fully appreciated I shall have the pleasure of vocalising the Ode twice, once in Greek and then again in English.
“I shall try to resist the temptation to regale the attendees a further time in Latin, though I cannot make any promises.”
The ode will be engraved on a bronze plaque that will have a permanent home in the Olympic Park
This is the second time that Dr D’Angour has created an Olympic ode – he wrote a Pindaric Ode for the Athens Games in 2004.
The Oxford academic, who created the poem in the style of Pindar, said: “I hope that these Odes will help to raise the profile of the Classics, which is an endlessly fascinating and inspiring subject.
“It will certainly be fun to hear the Ode read by the Mayor in his inimitable style, and I hope people will enjoy seeing the plaque when visiting the area in years to come.
“Writing an Ode for the Games revives a musical and poetic tradition from ancient Greece, where Odes were commissioned to celebrate athletic winners at the Games. Pindar was the greatest poet of his time, and sponsors paid a great deal of money for athletic victors to be honoured with an Ode by him.
“I have aimed to be faithful to ancient style and form, and used alcaic metre. Of course the puns may make people groan, but Pindar’s audiences may have done so too!”
The full Pindaric Ode for the London 2012 Olympics:
The new Olympic flame behold,
that once burned bright in Greece of old;
with happy hearts receive once more
these Games revived on London’s shore.
Praise rival teams, in sport allied,
as athletes stream from far and wide;
the poet too must take the road
conveying praise to victory owed.
Millions of watchers will embrace
the passion of each close-run race,
The efforts of the rowing teams
and gymnasts on balancing beams.
The will observe with rapt delight
the archer draw his bowstring tight,
the skilful rider guide her horse,
and lightning bolt around the course.
The pipes will play, the drum resound,
as medallists are daily crowned;
the crowd’s hurrah will reach the skies
when victors hoist the golden prize.
Now welcome to this seagirt land,
with London’s Mayor and co. at hand
good luck to all who strive to win:
applaud and let the Games begin!
Even better, the Telegraph includes the Greek (as an image):
Long-time readers of rogueclassicism will recall that this story actually broke last October (!): Primus a Boris (more useful links there).