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The race is not to the swift

  1. May 5, 2006 #1
    The race is not to the swift
    or the battle to the strong,
    nor does food come to the wise
    or wealth to the brilliant
    or favor to the learned;
    but time and chance happen to them all.

    I'm wondering what this "poem" really means. Is it that the race is for everyone who uses up his/her time and chance, training for the best? I've spent a few hours thinking about it not quite deriving a valid explanation.

  2. jcsd
  3. May 5, 2006 #2
    It is saying that you have to work hard and have some luck to succeed.
  4. May 5, 2006 #3


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    I think it's completely wrong. I think the poem is trying to say that no matter how hard you try or how fast you are or whatever, your success depends only on chance.
    Last edited: May 5, 2006
  5. May 5, 2006 #4
    Never mind what I said. I have no clue, because I don't know the full context. I searched the quote, and its a religious quote. What I said was taken at face value for what you put.
  6. May 5, 2006 #5


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    Mine too, i didn't even think about what kind of context this might be in.
  7. May 5, 2006 #6

    Taken from here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Politics_and_the_English_Language
  8. May 5, 2006 #7
    thanks for help and explanation Cyrus,
    Can you also translate this from "modern" English into reasonable and logical English? It's pretty hard for me to get some ideas from these lines, I mean, rather explain this, since I know what lines say, but I can't find logical meaning of all.

    Thanks, again.

    "Objective considerations of contemporary phenomena compel the conclusion that success or failure in competitive activities exhibits no tendency to be commensurate with innate capacity, but that a considerable element of the unpredictable must invariably be taken into account"
  9. May 6, 2006 #8
    I like the modern version better. The biblical one seems vague and pretentious, too much metaphor I think. Not enough straight talk.

    They don't? :uhh:

    Every bit as disgusting as the "unobscured" version. His comparison doesn't really work.
  10. May 6, 2006 #9


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    "The race is not to the swift . . ."

    Tell that to the next set of Olympic track champions. They sure look pretty swift to me.

    But yeah, I take it to mean that training for worldly greatness will do nothing for you, for the true race is the race to the kingdom of God, true wealth is the wealth of God's love in heaven, and you won't get those things by being fast or clever.
  11. May 6, 2006 #10
    Ah, bingo. You got the interpretation. Thanks Loseyourname, that sounds like the proper context.
  12. May 6, 2006 #11
    That's what makes me so miffed about Orwell taking those lines as an example of "clear" writing. They're not clear at all! They can mean any number of things, and you sure as heck can't take them at face value.
  13. May 6, 2006 #12
    So it really talks about the road to heaven? I just thought there is a hidden message how to behave and think of life and competition excluding any religious ideas. Feeling a little bit disapointed.

    Anyway, thank you everyone for posts, responses, writings and everything.
  14. May 7, 2006 #13


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    What this poem really means, in a nutshell, is "size doesn't matter". Although it is commonly believed to have been written by King Solomon (who had seven hundred wives and three hundred concubines), the identity of the real author remains somewhat of a mystery. :wink:
  15. May 7, 2006 #14
    Excuse me, but can you give a deeper explanation of yours?
  16. May 7, 2006 #15


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    Self worth isn't determined entirely by those talents and handicaps that are beyond one's control, but enthusiasm and determination can also be important factors.
  17. May 7, 2006 #16
    Wow, that's pretty much what I was looking for, not any explanation of road to heaven. I got its full meaning, and I like your explanation much better, although it probably is that both explanation or even the other one applies to the poem given above. Now, give me some time to think and wonder about it.


    How strange was it that I couldn't come up with such simple yet powerful explanation?
  18. May 7, 2006 #17
    These you probably know::
    1)The race for love power and money doesnt always go to the swiftest (hence the rabbit and tortious *sorry for miss spelling*)
    2)The strongest doesnt always win! Sometimes it can be the smartest!
    3)If your smarter you dont always know everything. Jung talks about how even the educated are just as blind sometimes as the stupid people. Think of a doctor who knows SO MUCH but can still be a royal a s s
    4)You dont have to be smart to be rich!
    5)just cause we study sciences doesnt mean we will be liked!
    Here you go::
    6) But with time and probability or chance anything can happen. Basically its saying that nothing is as it seems and anything is truley possibale and regardless of status or state of mind you can do or go wherever you want! But it also says that bad things can happen. its kinda a simple poem but i like it. thanks for posting. and im sure that my discription is real stupid so sorry ;.;! But I wanted to solve it on my own!
  19. Jan 14, 2009 #18
    I wrote this after reading this book
    listed in the bottom
    hope this helps
    kelly miller
    The race is not to the swift
    Nor the battles to the strong
    It is for those who don't drift
    And know to whom they belong

    Clearly we've a defined goal
    That all can conquer and win
    Dearly to each in their role
    Is prayer to endure to the end

    To all- an invitation
    Let us be introspective
    To reach our destination
    We must see each objective

    With continuous effort
    We must ever stay on course
    We simply cannot afford
    To detour for therein's remorse

    We must avoid the quicksand
    That threatens on every side
    And steer clear of each hand
    That says there's a way to slide

    Our Elder Brother and Lord
    Showed the way while yet a boy
    He gave to us a watchword-
    Of Father's business and joy

    As a grown man, He taught us
    And, too, He showed us the way
    Him, may we evermore trust
    Who calms the waters to stay

    There's much more to the story
    For for our sins, Jesus wept
    On the pathway to glory
    He taught the laws that must be kept

    With faith, hope, and repentance
    And ordinances that do clean
    We've help to complete the distance
    And with the Father be seen

    Thoughts from an Invitation to Exaltation
    Timeless talks by Thomas S. Monson pages 9-12
  20. Jan 15, 2009 #19
    Does this help?
    http://thinkexist.com/quotation/the_race_is_not_always_to_the_swift-nor_the/203622.html" [Broken]
    Last edited by a moderator: May 3, 2017
  21. Jan 15, 2009 #20


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    1) It's a quote from a frustrated better on NFL games. Generally, the balance between skill and luck in the outcome of NFL games is 52% skill and 47% luck*.

    *Based on the idea that if the game were 100% based on skill, the team with the better statistics would win 100% of the time and if the game were 100% based on luck, the team with the better statistics would win 50% of the time. In practice, the team with the better statistics wins a little over 75% of the time.

    2) It's a quote from an insurance salesman. No matter how well prepared you are and no matter how good you are, bad things happen. The only way to prepare for the future is to accept that bad things are going to happen to you and buy lots of insurance so the bad things don't bankrupt you.
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