Synopsis of Nine Gold Medals by David Lee Roth

Synopsis of Nine Gold Medals by David Lee Roth

About the Poet Nine Gold Medals

David Lee Roth (1954) is an American rock vocalist, poet, songwriter, actor and former radio personality. In 2007, he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Roth is the best lead singer of the Southern California-based hard rock band Van Halen. He is also known as a successful solo artist, releasing numerous RIAA-certified Gold and Platinum records. After more than two decades apart, Roth re-joined Van Halen in 2006 for a North American tour that became the highest-grossing in the band's history and one of the highest-grossing of that year. In 2012, Roth and Van Halen released the critically successful comeback album, A Different kind of Truth.

About the Poem Nine Gold Medals

Nine Gold Poems is a poem that was primarily written as a song in the immensely popular 'Neofolk' genre. It is one of the eight songs from his album, titled Digging Through My Closet, which was released in 1994. It captures an amazing moment at the Special Olympics, reflecting the great significance of human values in the highly competitive arena of international sports. It touches upon what accounts for the spirit of sportsmanship, which seems to be glaringly missing today in many forms of the game that are played across the globe.

Summary of Nine Gold Medals

Of all the events in the Olympics, the hundred-metre race is the most prestigious. The athlete, who wins it, is remembered as the fastest man in the world. So, for Special Olympics mentioned in the poem, this is the final event, hence the most prestigious. The hundred-yard race is about to begin. Everyone hopes to win a medal. The spectators are as excited as the contestants. They cheer and encourage the contestants. The athletes take a position at the starting blocks. They begin to run immediately after the starting pistol is fired. However, one of them is unable to run and falls on the track. He cries out with the pain of disappointment. He has trained hard but does not get the opportunity to show his talent. All his dreams of winning the medal are broken and destroyed.

When the remaining eight contestants see him fall, they, instead of continuing the race, come to the help of their fellow contestant. All the athletes have dreamt of winning the medal. However, they readily forget their dream and come forward to help the boy to his feet. Then, all the nine contestants walk hand-in-hand to the finish line. The audience is so moved by the exemplary behaviour of the contestants that it stands up and clap in admiration and awe. There are now nine winners, instead of one, and each has been given a gold medal. All the contestants display empathy turning the Special Olympics into a really 'special one. By awarding gold medals to all nine contestants, the authorities honour their display of empathy, helpful nature and human values.

Critical Analysis of Nine Gold Medals

The poem "Nine Gold Medals", written by the American poet David Lee Roth, consists of 8 stanzas, each containing 4 lines. The poet has employed the unrhymed free verse form for this poetic piece. This is in sync with the form and structure of poetry written these days.

The setting or the scene of this poem is that of 'Special Olympics'. In these Olympics, differently-abled persons, who have some problem/s in a particular part of the body, participate in various sports events. The contestants put in a lot of preparation and practice.

Olympics and Paralympics are held once every four years. Athletes from all over the world train hard to participate in this event. Winning a medal in these games is the ultimate goal of every athlete of the world. In this poem, which is aptly titled 'Nine Gold Medals', the poet tells us that success at such top levels of sports competition is not all about winning medals only. Instead, it's more about the display of humanitarian spirit and the fundamental human values of empathy, love, compassion and cooperation. Commitment to these values is the hallmark of true sportsmanship. The poem brilliantly presents the idea of empathy and through the event described here, tries to reinforce the significance of human values suggesting how they are as important as the spirit of competition.

The poem presents the situation of a race, where the contestants leave aside their desire to win the medal to help a smaller and weaker contestant. They all go hand-in-hand to the finishing line. The message conveyed by this poem is loud and clear. In order to enhance the quality of our life we need to develop empathy. Empathy is essentially a person's capacity to understand another person's experience from his/her point of view. It can also be regarded as the ability to understand and accept others who are different from us. It helps us to appreciate what the other person is going through and to offer emotional support at the time of need. Empathy works wonders when applied to relationships – our family, our friends or colleagues. It encourages positive behaviour towards people who are in need. Not only does empathy help us to resolve conflicts but it also enables us to find solutions to problems. In the process, we end up making decisions to benefit us without hurting others.

In a nutshell, empathy can be considered to be one's ability to put oneself in another's shoes'. That is exactly what the eight contestants have done. One look at the fallen contestant has forced them to think 'what would I have felt if I had fallen?' and they know exactly what they have to do. The poem also shows that empathetic behaviour is applauded by all.

Word - Meanings 

athletes - persons who are trained in sports:
building up - preparing:
spectator - person who watches at a show, game, or another event;
poised - ready:
stumbled – tripped;
staggered - moved unsteadily:
anguish – severe suffering or mental pain;
dashed in the dirt - came to nothing:
occurred - happened;
lad - boy.

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