Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Michael Horowitz, 'Midsummer Morning Jog Log' (1986)

(Thanks to Jeremy for the suggestion and the book). And so to the Midsummer Morning Jog Log, where an early morning jogger’s ‘ludicrously heavy-booted feet’ tramp through the Slad Valley, a folded-away corner of Gloucestershire. These ‘cloddy zigzag hops’ also run through… perhaps not Romanticized nature, but the exuberant, destructive force of the wild:

‘on I charge and stumble
Squishing now and then against remains
of the countless deaths whose predatory nature
night’s blanket harboured’.

The initial idea that this wildnerness should be being witnessed by a runner, let alone by a person at all (rather than by some abstract consciousness) soon slips away. Perhaps you could still argue, though, that the sacred language (‘the innermost nave | of the abbey of trees’) is an effect of what I’ve written about previously as runner’s high. And it’s certain that much of the poem’s own exuberance lies in the whirled, whorled texture of the language (‘flagrant pink bespattered mornings’, ‘weeds upon weeds in abundancy swirling’). Its relationship to prose can be summed up with a saying that also applies to runners: that poetry is to prose as dancing is to walking.

Our midsummer jogger has left home early: ‘The First up | and out – ha!’. Personally I always run sluggishly at this time – when I used to run with a trainee soldier was keen on early starts, we’d have breakfast in his college afterwards, then I’d go back to bed. But when the morning run is the only slot I have, I can’t deny there’s that first light and sunrise are hella moving.

Let’s finish with this beginning, and more specifically, by admiring – from a distance – what William Blake, whether a jogger or not history does not relate, has to say about this same sight:

‘What’, it will be Question’d, ‘When the Sun rises, do you not see a round disk of fire somewhat like a Guinea?’ O no, no, I see an Innumerable company of the Heavenly host crying ‘Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God Almighty’.

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