The Scribbler

25 March 2011

A poetic interlude

Filed under: Japan,run,words — The Scribbler @ 19:29

A couple of weeks ago I wrote down some thoughts about running that came out as poetry. And the most excellent Barry Cornelius kindly sent me a comment with a link to ‘The Song of the Ungirt Runners

I hadn’t read it before, but thought some of you might like it too. I particularly like the second verse:

The waters of the seas
Are troubled as by storm
The tempest strips the trees
And does not leave them warm
Does the tearing tempest pause?
Do the tree-tops ask it why?
So we run without a cause
‘Neath the big bare sky.

At the moment those images of tempests and storm tossed seas resonate with the scenes we’ve witnessed in Japan. And they reminded me of the Run for Japan campaign that I and many of my other running friends have contributed to.

It’s a simple idea: do a run, log the miles and make an optional donation to the British Red Cross. It’s a small way of showing that we’re thinking of the many people whose lives have been utterly turned upside down.

Today I also read that a poem by Gerard Manly Hopkins, ‘The Leaden Echo and the Golden Echo’ was read at Elizabeth Taylor’s funeral. I think it’s a stunner. And who better to read it than Richard Burton?

Sometimes poetry is perfect, especially for the big events. Its heightened language speaks to us in ways that prose finds difficult, through rhythm, rhyme and precise language. Like the right word at the right time, it resonates deeply.



  1. I liked that, Michelle.I like to remember, and sometimes write, poetry while out running. Perhaps it’s the rhythm of the running that spurs the rhythm of the poem. And this reminded me that I loved Hopkins’ poetry at school and university but haven’t read much since. I’m going to read The Windhover now, suggested by your storm-tossed images.


    Comment by John Simmons — 25 March 2011 @ 23:01 | Reply

    • Thanks John, I too often pick up a stray lyric or line in my head and it becomes a mantra for that run. Sometimes they come from strange places. I haven’t read much Hopkins but these seredipitous connections are leading me back to rediscover some long forgotten verses.


      Comment by The Scribbler — 26 March 2011 @ 12:58 | Reply

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