Poetry in motion, motion in poetry

I came across this poem recently. It’s published in the The Runner’s Literary Companion.

Poetry is sort of like opera for me: I don’t get it most of the time and, as a result, it ends up making me feel bad about myself. So I avoid it. But sometimes I happen across something that clicks, at least in the poetic realm (hasn’t happened yet in the operatic one).

I thought about this poem while finishing up my last 1000m interval yesterday morning. I especially like the final verse.

This Runner
by Francis Webb

This runner on his final lap
Sucks wildly for elusive air;
Space is a vortex, time’s a gap,
Seconds are shells that hiss and flare
Between red mist and cool white day
Four hundred throttling yards away.

Each spike-shaped muscle, yelping nerve,
Worries, snaps at his stumbling weight;
He goes wide on this floating curve,
Cursing with crazy hammering hate
A rival glued to inside ground
Who flogs his heart, forces him round.

Friends, here is your holiday;
Admire your image in this force
While years, books, flesh and mind give way
To the sheer fury of the source.
Here is your vicious, central shape
That has no need of cheer or tape.

2 Responses

  1. Nice. Very appropriate.

    I was cured of a lifelong disdain for poetry not long ago, by Walt Whitman, of all people. And Billy Collins can be hilarious.

  2. Poetry is scary like opera I agree; but just like opera, I believe it’s meant to be understood viscerally more than intellectually. (Kind of like running.)

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