Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Lighten the legs and unburden the soul

I don't know if it's the winter weather or the stress of life that has piled up but I am searching for something I have temporarily lost...that freedom, that joy of running. It's noticeably absent from a treadmill in a gym and lacking on the perfectly lined and symmetrical track. It's present in abundance on unplanned runs that respond to the body, not the watch. It's there when the sun comes up over the crest of a hill. It lightens the legs and unburdens the soul. I remember it. I long for it.

The Song of the Ungirt Runners (1922?)

We swing ungirded hips,
And lightened are our eyes,
The rain is on our lips,
We do not run for prize.
We know not whom we trust
Nor whitherward we fare,
But we run because we must
Through the great wide air.

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.

The rain is on our lips,
We do not run for prize.
But the storm the water whips
And the wave howls to the skies.
The winds arise and strike it
And scatter it like sand,
And we run because we like it
Through the broad bright land.

Charles Hamilton Sorley
(from http://www.runningtimes.com/Print.aspx?articleID=6664)