The Derby Beat: A Poem (copyright 2010 Lesley Humphrey)

DERBY SPIRIT 2010, by Lesley Humphrey

When it finally settled in that I was going to be the official 137th Kentucky Derby artist (2011), I thought about what I would love the painting to be about.... I asked myself "If there was one last work of art I could do in the world, what would I want my children to know?"

The Derby, life, and any kind of achievement in the world is as a result of not giving up.  I thought about my friends who were sick.  I thought about the great Kentucky people I know as they strive each year for that Derby super horse that will keep the industry going.  I thought about my great grandfather who went to the Yukon in search of gold... twice, and about my sister who died in 2005 after a long battle with M.S.... And I decided that it had to be about NOT GIVING UP, and then a poem came to me.....

Now, this painting was not the one selected for the Derby images, and so you see it here unfinished, but it is the accompanying poem that is flowing from person to person like a balm.  I cannot tell you what it means to me, that it has touched people who have lost jobs, are fighting dreadful personal battles, and even young college students.  It has legs of its own.... It's written for you, whoever you are....

THE DERBY BEAT by Lesley Humphrey (2010 All rights reserved)

When sometimes you feel out of place,

You’ve further to run just to stay in the race,

And the journey ahead seems too hard to face

.......Don’t give up


When legs become weak, and muscles burn,

And the earth beneath you begins to churn,

To safer ground, your thoughts may turn, yet

......Don’t give up


When your heart can offer you nothing more,

When defeat descends like a leaden door,

With your confidence leaking from every pore...

.....Don’t give up


When all you can do is stay in the race,

Rejecting all compromise; not saving face,

When you dig deep just to keep your pace

.....Don’t give up


You’ll reach a point when, as you make the last turn,

From deep within, a force starts to burn,

Internal fires fueled, when you yearn... just...

.....Don’t give up


The finish line, that glint of gold

Is reached by those who do not fold,

For guiding hands come to the bold, who

.....Don’t give up


That vein of gold you rush to meet,

The pulse of life pounds with your feet,

You’ll find resolve in every beat, when you

.....Don’t give up!

.....Don’t give up!

.....Don’t give up!

.....Don’t give up!

.... Don’t give up!