Walken Reads Poe’s The Raven

October 31, 2010 Leave a comment

Happy Halloween to my poet-lovin’ friends. 

Here’s how to listen: Close your eyes and just listen as Christopher Walken reads Edgar Allan Poe’s eerily haunting poem.  Then dunk a graham cracker in a glass of milk and give a nod to your youth.  If this doesn’t evoke a rainy day memory from your early school days, nothing will. 

Words to poem follow below (if you’d rather read along.)

Edgar Allan Poe

The Raven
Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered weak and weary,
Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore,
While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,
As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.
`’Tis some visitor,’ I muttered, `tapping at my chamber door –
Only this, and nothing more.’
Ah, distinctly I remember it was in the bleak December,
And each separate dying ember wrought its ghost upon the floor.
Eagerly I wished the morrow; – vainly I had sought to borrow
From my books surcease of sorrow – sorrow for the lost Lenore –
For the rare and radiant maiden whom the angels named Lenore –
Nameless here for evermore.
And the silken sad uncertain rustling of each purple curtain
Thrilled me – filled me with fantastic terrors never felt before;
So that now, to still the beating of my heart, I stood repeating
`’Tis some visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door –
Some late visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door; –
This it is, and nothing more,’
Presently my soul grew stronger; hesitating then no longer,
`Sir,’ said I, `or Madam, truly your forgiveness I implore;
But the fact is I was napping, and so gently you came rapping,
And so faintly you came tapping, tapping at my chamber door,
That I scarce was sure I heard you’ – here I opened wide the door; –
Darkness there, and nothing more.
Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there wondering, fearing,
Doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before
But the silence was unbroken, and the darkness gave no token,
And the only word there spoken was the whispered word, `Lenore!’
This I whispered, and an echo murmured back the word, `Lenore!’
Merely this and nothing more.
Back into the chamber turning, all my soul within me burning,
Soon again I heard a tapping somewhat louder than before.
`Surely,’ said I, `surely that is something at my window lattice;
Let me see then, what thereat is, and this mystery explore –
Let my heart be still a moment and this mystery explore; –
‘Tis the wind and nothing more!’
Open here I flung the shutter, when, with many a flirt and flutter,
In there stepped a stately raven of the saintly days of yore.
Not the least obeisance made he; not a minute stopped or stayed he;
But, with mien of lord or lady, perched above my chamber door –
Perched upon a bust of Pallas just above my chamber door –
Perched, and sat, and nothing more.
Then this ebony bird beguiling my sad fancy into smiling,
By the grave and stern decorum of the countenance it wore,
`Though thy crest be shorn and shaven, thou,’ I said, `art sure no craven.
Ghastly grim and ancient raven wandering from the nightly shore –
Tell me what thy lordly name is on the Night’s Plutonian shore!’
Quoth the raven, `Nevermore.’
Much I marvelled this ungainly fowl to hear discourse so plainly,
Though its answer little meaning – little relevancy bore;
For we cannot help agreeing that no living human being
Ever yet was blessed with seeing bird above his chamber door –
Bird or beast above the sculptured bust above his chamber door,
With such name as `Nevermore.’
But the raven, sitting lonely on the placid bust, spoke only,
That one word, as if his soul in that one word he did outpour.
Nothing further then he uttered – not a feather then he fluttered –
Till I scarcely more than muttered `Other friends have flown before –
On the morrow he will leave me, as my hopes have flown before.’
Then the bird said, `Nevermore.’
Startled at the stillness broken by reply so aptly spoken,
`Doubtless,’ said I, `what it utters is its only stock and store,
Caught from some unhappy master whom unmerciful disaster
Followed fast and followed faster till his songs one burden bore –
Till the dirges of his hope that melancholy burden bore
Of “Never-nevermore.”‘
But the raven still beguiling all my sad soul into smiling,
Straight I wheeled a cushioned seat in front of bird and bust and door;
Then, upon the velvet sinking, I betook myself to linking
Fancy unto fancy, thinking what this ominous bird of yore –
What this grim, ungainly, ghastly, gaunt, and ominous bird of yore
Meant in croaking `Nevermore.’
This I sat engaged in guessing, but no syllable expressing
To the fowl whose fiery eyes now burned into my bosom’s core;
This and more I sat divining, with my head at ease reclining
On the cushion’s velvet lining that the lamp-light gloated o’er,
But whose velvet violet lining with the lamp-light gloating o’er,
She shall press, ah, nevermore!
Then, methought, the air grew denser, perfumed from an unseen censer
Swung by Seraphim whose foot-falls tinkled on the tufted floor.
`Wretch,’ I cried, `thy God hath lent thee – by these angels he has sent thee
Respite – respite and nepenthe from thy memories of Lenore!
Quaff, oh quaff this kind nepenthe, and forget this lost Lenore!’
Quoth the raven, `Nevermore.’
`Prophet!’ said I, `thing of evil! – prophet still, if bird or devil! –
Whether tempter sent, or whether tempest tossed thee here ashore,
Desolate yet all undaunted, on this desert land enchanted –
On this home by horror haunted – tell me truly, I implore –
Is there – is there balm in Gilead? – tell me – tell me, I implore!’
Quoth the raven, `Nevermore.’
`Prophet!’ said I, `thing of evil! – prophet still, if bird or devil!
By that Heaven that bends above us – by that God we both adore –
Tell this soul with sorrow laden if, within the distant Aidenn,
It shall clasp a sainted maiden whom the angels named Lenore –
Clasp a rare and radiant maiden, whom the angels named Lenore?’
Quoth the raven, `Nevermore.’
`Be that word our sign of parting, bird or fiend!’ I shrieked upstarting –
`Get thee back into the tempest and the Night’s Plutonian shore!
Leave no black plume as a token of that lie thy soul hath spoken!
Leave my loneliness unbroken! – quit the bust above my door!
Take thy beak from out my heart, and take thy form from off my door!’
Quoth the raven, `Nevermore.’
And the raven, never flitting, still is sitting, still is sitting
On the pallid bust of Pallas just above my chamber door;
And his eyes have all the seeming of a demon’s that is dreaming,
And the lamp-light o’er him streaming throws his shadow on the floor;
And my soul from out that shadow that lies floating on the floor
Shall be lifted – nevermore!

Rekindled Retires — Maybe

September 30, 2010 1 comment

NOTE TO READERS: This month I launched a new blog for my business. Rekindledreader is on hiatus–or retired if I can’t manage two blogs–for a spell.

Here’s where you can find me now:

I still write about running, only now it’s in the context of helping others find health and happiness.  It’s what I do–or strive to do–as a fitness professional. 

At WholeSum Fitness I hope to ignite a passion for health and well-being in those who are like I once was: inert and unfulfilled. It’s about the link between setting fitness goals and achieving results in life and at work.

Please drop by my new online home anytime–I love guests!

Cheers to your good health.


P.S. For the record, I’ve also grown a bit weary of the rekindled moniker. Here’s its genesis: Re: Kindle dreader. Clever, yes. But my dread is gone now and all my fears are abated about e-readers: If people can co-exist then so can e-books and hardbacks.  And, oh–I’m also no longer rekindled. I’m just plain old kindled now–like all the time.

An Open Farewell to ChicRunner.com

August 31, 2010 11 comments

Dear Danica, 

I was super stoked to find your blog and it’s been tons of fun reading your posts on booty shorts and other useful products.  You share such amazing tips, like curling your hair with a straightening iron (who knew?) and adding a dab of snazz to a race singlet with a bedazzler (such a clever idea!). 

I’ve cheered you in races you’ve already run when, days later, you’ve posted the recap.  And while I admit to worrying you’ll skin a knee or worse, tear a meniscus while texting at a sub-9 minute per mile clip, I do love all the candid race photos on your site.  Those jazz hands from Long Beach? Hilarious. 

But here’s the thing, Danica.  We are not of the same tribe.  On the surface we seem right for each other. After all, we are both women runners who write about our sport.  But I’m torn by the nearly thirty year gap between us.  Each time I visit chicrunner.com I’m like that creepy mom peeking at her daughter’s Facebook page.  I have a desperate sense of being in the wrong place. 

I know our relationship was short-lived and I’m sorry.  I hope you believe me when I say it’s not you, it’s me.  I’m just struggling to make a real connection. 

This same thing happened to me at Borders the other day when I pulled Run Like A Mother off the shelf.  It’s a newly-released running guide for women written by Sarah Bowen Shea and Dimity McDowell, two runner-mom-wife-professional women balancing their lives with equanimity and grace.  Like you, the authors give great advice but it’s just not right for me. No husband, no kids and few cares, I could run all day long if my arthritic-prone back would allow it. 

Ah yes, arthritis.  That brings me to what I’ve wanted to tell you all along.  I have a new blog crush.  Her name is Ellison and she also writes about our sport at OldGalRunning.blogspot.com.  She runs, she reads (major big bonus) and she’s over 50!  Seth Godin was right when he said we’re all looking to make a connection with others who share our ideas, experiences and desires. When we find that, we find our tribe—that place that, when you go there, they want to take you in. 

I’m not forlorn for leaving you—I’m ready for this change. Ellison gets my need for afternoon naps and doesn’t wince when I say menopause out loud.  We are both age-defying athletes with something to prove.  Getting older does have its benefits—just ask Paula Radcliffe.  An aging runner not-yet 40, she said “things like mental strength and endurance, if anything, get better with age.”  And she’s right.  Did I tell you Ellison qualified for Boston at 48 during her very first marathon, ever? (Don’t hang your head, Danica–you will get there, too. And probably while you’re still in your 20’s, I bet.) 

Old runners read great literature. Follow the reading list of oldgalrunning.blogspot.com for more great reads

Anyway, this is not a permanent good-bye.  I’ll still follow you on Twitter and nod a hello at race expos, should we ever meet.  But for now, I gotta run. 



Authors and Athletes: 6 Traits Shared by Writers and Runners

August 25, 2010 13 comments

Some days I’d rather read about running than actually lace up my Mizuno’s and head out the door.  It can be that way with writing, too.  I’ll sooner flip through a how-to book for inspiration than just. plain. write.

That’s the thing about those disciplines.  Both require a lot of practice if you want to improve. That fact led me to wonder what other traits overlap between the two.  Here are my top six.  

Writers, like runners, are: 

  1. Patient.  Like ultrarunners crossing the Death Valley in June, writers trudge through their own low desert at times. The good ones stay the course, even when nothing important seems to surface with their story. It does eventually.  
  2. Introspective.  Natalie Goldberg called the process of writing a Long, Quiet HighwayShe’s a Buddhist, so silence suits her.  Goldberg is also a runner.   
  3. Courageous.  In her helpful guide, If You Want to Write, Brenda Ueland said children are natural storytellers but observed that “creative power is usually drummed out of people early in life by criticism.”  The brave ignore their inner-critic and write anyway. As for running, if you think there’s no courage involved in reaching the tape of a 26.2 mile foot race, you’ve never hit the wall in a marathon.
  4.  Wasteful (I mean, Efficient!). Annie Dillard cut 970 pages from The Maytrees, her 270 page novel that took 10 years and several hundred revisions to complete. The result of her copious editing? A prose style one New York Times critic called “so gorgeously precise that every sentence sings.” Runners improve their style in a similar fashion.  A beginner’s bouncing stride and flailing arms give way to a smoother form in time—to achieve what Jeff Galloway calls a flowing “quiet motion.”  
  5. Tenacious. Good writing is hard work. Contemporary novelist (and runner) Haruki Murakami refers to it as grueling manual labor: “The whole process (of writing) requires far more energy, over a long period, than most people ever imagine.”  In his memoir, Murakami says running—he runs 200 miles most months—gives him the stamina to endure his tedious, labor-intense, and sometimes painful life as a writer. 
  6.  Focused. Again Murakami weighs in: “if you can focus effectively, you’ll be able to compensate for an erratic talent or even a shortage of it.” He was referring to writing, but the same holds true for running.  In my last 13-mile race I ran with a pacer named Tonson. With nearly 100 marathons to his credit, Tonson helped us to our goal with this mantra: “Focus is your friend today.  Find your focus and you will find the finish line.” 

Sprinting to the finish of a 13.1 mile foot race.

 I did find focus that day—and managed to cross the line with a new personal best.  Like Murakami, running teaches me a lot about discipline and endurance. Turns out, when it comes to writing, getting better also requires a healthy reliance on the traits of an athlete.

Categories: On Running, On Writing

Kay Ryan Runs

I’ve been thinking a bit about Kay Ryan recently–she’s just ending her tenure as our country’s Poet Laureate for the past two years–so I’m wondering if the freedom from such a big job will give her space to write more poetry.   I’m guessing she’ll be fairly prolific, whereas I’ve been free of my corporate trappings for several months now and I am still. not. prolific.  At writing poetry, that is.  If we’re talking running, then game on, sister Kay.  I’ve got you beat in that department. 

Our esteemed Poet Laureate was featured a few months back in Runner’s World–here’s the article: I’m a Runner: Kay Ryan from RunnersWorld.com. I liked what she said about the parallels between running and writing:

Both require patience and endurance and humility. Both can be hard and unpleasant at times. But of the two, writing is much harder. When you go out for a run, you never fail, but you often fail when you set out to write a poem, even if you try your hardest.

 Anyway, thinking about our exiting Poet Laureate (and runner) made me remember a book I read nearly 20 years ago that involved another Poet Laureate–William Meredith.  Read more…

Categories: On Running

Humbled by Runner’s Amazing Story

August 11, 2010 1 comment

I run with two fit and healthy 36 year old women every Tuesday and Saturday.  We’re a trio of runners trying to qualify for Boston at this year’s Long Beach Marathon in October.   My younger friends are a bit daunted by the time goal required to qualify for the big race: they need a 3:45 finish time–not at all impossible for them, but still a challenge.

I ran the San Francisco half marathon late last month as part of my training preparation for Long Beach and stumbled onto an inspirational story in the SF Chronicle that I could not resist sharing with my training friends.  Alyshia Davies’s story is so amazing, in fact, that I cannot resist sharing it with everyone, even non-runners.  I’m just in awe of this woman’s determination and drive.  

If you’re curious about this super woman from the bay area, check out the Chronicle’s story here: S.F. Marathon: 24,000 unique tales in 26 miles – SFGate.  And if you’re like me, you’ll want to know way more about the transformed woman than what was published in that small clip, so check out her blog at http://getalegupforlife.blogspot.com/ — she’s got a before and after photo on her Blogger profile page.  And may I just say, “Wow.”  Oh bonus points: Alyshia Davies is a compelling writer to boot.

Categories: On Running

Music Runners Beware!

I don’t know what you should beware of–I might have meant be “aware” when I wrote the headline to this post.  Seemed like a good headline though, so I left it.  Sorry to disappoint.

I no longer run with music so it’s possible that my subconscious mind wants to taunt those of you able to multitask while running.  I found listening to music distracting and complex–cords and ear buds competed with my need for contemplation.  And these days tempo runs and track training take too much concentration for me to even consider dealing with an iPod.  So no music.

Haruki Murakami writes about the music that keeps him company on the road in his semi-memoir, What I Talk About When I Talk About Running.  I wrote a review of that book here.  I neglected to mention his love of music and that the Lovin’ Spoonful kept him company on the road.  Well, nobody’s perfect Haruki.