Alfred Lord Tennyson

Alfred Lord Tennyson at the 2012 Olympic Village

The last line of Alfred Lord Tennyson's poem Ulysses -- "To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield" -- will be engraved on a wall in the 2012 Olympic Village, London authorities announced Monday. How classically British, right?

As Tennyson also wrote, "Knowledge comes but wisdom lingers." So perhaps there is wisdom in the choice. Just for the sake of argument here, however: why a 19th-century British poet laureate when the 21st-century Britain on display now and next summer is surely a far-more multicultural place than when the master himself was exercising his pen and Queen Victoria oversaw an empire on which the sun never set.



Like, couldn't you make the argument that someone or some saying a little more, you know, nowadays would perhaps be more suitable?

But what should I know -- a mere scribbler and, at that, an American? Mine, as Tennyson also wrote, albeit in a very different context, is not to reason why.

Olympic authorities said the lines from Ulysses were chosen "to not only inspire athletes competing in 2012, but also future generations of residents and schoolchildren." The choice was made by a panel that include the current poet laureate, Carol Ann Duffy, and author Sebastian Faulks. The village will be converted after the Games into housing with a school, health-care facilities and parks; the plan is for the inscribed wall to stay as is as "part of the lasting legacy," officials said.