That’s a line from a Delmore Schwartz poem called Far Rockaway. It describes the happiness, the lightness and effervescence of being at the beach and in the ocean. It’s irrepressibly good-natured and likable; the first line is: “Radiant soda of the seashore fashions / fun, foam and freedom.”
Pretty good, calling the ocean a radiant soda.
Thinking about the word blue, Schwartz’s line came into my head but his poem couldn’t be a more marked contrast to the Madrid tournament, played on the much-criticized blue courts and full of unpleasant news, upsets and ill feeling. Nadal and Djokovic, both dispatched in shocking upsets, ended up vowing not to return; the hapless Tomas Berdych, loping and pounding his way to creating his own upset, was denied by the irreducibly crafty and determined Federer. Berdych’s face during the trophy ceremony was so sad that it seemed to leech all remaining pleasure out of the proceedings. As much as Federer’s when he loses, Berdych’s face looked inconsolable, like a little boy whose favorite toy was smashed, and perhaps he’d also just lost his home and his family. Though I was full of happy respect for Federer’s grit, Berdych’s face just about ruined everything. This sadness in sports is ever-present – is the whole thing really worth it?
But Serena – good old Serena! She kind of represented the opposite spirit, claiming she had no problem with the blue courts, and wearing a royal-blue shirt with ¾-length sleeves that cheerily matched the reviled blue dirt. Serena nearly coasted to a win over World No. 1 Victoria Azarenka, finishing with an accidental ace that gave a bad bounce and sprang crazily away from a startled Azarenka. Serena burst into a delighted laugh, half apology and half joy. She then acknowledged the crowd’s cheers with her patented combination of regal elegance and girlish prancing. Oracine Price, Serena’s mother, embraced other members of the family and waved to her victorious daughter. What a nice Mother’s Day present for the Williams clan, and for all of us – not just the win but Serena happy, in command of her gifts, cheerful and poised. It almost makes you forget Berdych’s inexpressibly poignant sadness.
Tags: crafty veteran, Delmore Schwartz, sadness of sports