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Lay for the Day
31st May

1868: the earliest recorded bicycle race takes place over two kilometres at the Parc de St Cloud, Paris. It was won by Dr James Moore of Great Britain (1847–1935, later Chevalier de la Legion d'Honneur).


To the Bicycle

Humane chariot, most valuable,
most laughable of machines,
complete companion of the human form
and to the human bottom bosom friend,
we are more intimate than most friends.

Cousin to the umbrella
and elder brother of the sewing machine,
an example to all your family,
you testify of an heavenly engineering
which angels do not need.

Once you went unrecognised,
bore eccentrics asymmetrically about,
stopped to pose for engravings.
What you gained in simplicity and equity
you gained also in beauty and usefulness.

You are our invention’s
hymn to balance;
with the horse and the steam-train,
you write the perfect poem of distance
overland – its sonnet.

Poised between your wheels,
between your pedals,
I feel I know your future
is secure. You cannot be replaced
any more than I can.


John Gibbens
from Makings ’84-’88

The Lay Reader: an archive of the poetic calendar


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