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Shakespeare the Runner: Summer Sonnets

by Amy L. Marxkors

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Just your neighborhood runner, ruining Shakespeare for you, one sonnet at a time. I apologize in advance. 

Note: Substitutions/deletions are marked by parentheses. Anecdotes are marked by italics. 

Sonnet 18 

Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?
You mean, a summer’s run?
Thou art more lovely and more temperate.
Because, let’s face it, the pit of Hades itself
Would be more lovely and more temperate.
Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May—
And April. And basically anytime I have a track workout and
Wait… I thought this poem was about summer?
Ahem.
And summer’s lease hath all too short a date—
Which is why the humidity hangs on through September,
Meaning I won’t stop sweating until Halloween.
Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines—
And by sometimes, you mean all the time.
And often is his gold complexion dimmed.
… by the haze of humidity. Air quality RED!
And every fair from fair sometime declines—
Like my pace.
By chance—
Or exhaustion. Or dehydration. Or cramps.
Or nature’s changing course—
Hold on a sec. Who changed the course?
Untrimmed.
Hold on another sec. Is the course short?
But thy eternal summer shall not fade—
See: August.
Nor lose possession of that fair thou ow’st—
As in, “I ow’st died on that run, yo.”
Nor shall death brag thou wand’rest in his shade—
Okay. So I stopped for, like, two seconds under that tree.
It was 150 degrees out there.
When in eternal lines to Time thou grow’st.
Pain is temporary. Results pages are forever.
So long as men can breath—
Which is not a given in this weather.
Or eyes can see—
Also not a given, if you’re wearing sunscreen.
So long lives this—
Summer running!
And this gives life to thee. 

Sonnet 1

From (slower) creatures we desire increase (in pace),
That thereby (a hope of a PR) might never die,
But as the (runner) should by time decease,
His (Athlinks page) might bear his memory:
But thou, contracted to (train unwise),
Feed'st thy (body) with self-substantial fuel,
Making a famine where abundance lies,
(Hydration) thy foe, (denying) thy sweet self (GU) too cruel.
Thou that art now the world's (most dehydrated runner ever),
And only (able to run through) spring,
Within thine own (blog) buriest thy content
And, tender churl, makest waste in (training).
Pity the (runner), (whoever he) be,
To (refuse water and fuel), (to) the grave (go) thee. 

Sonnet 116

Let me not to (medical) minds
Admit impediments. Love is not love
Which (confesses) when it (injury) finds,
Or bends (and an off day approve).
O no! it is (a true runner’s) mark
That looks on (Achilles tendonitis) and is never shaken;
(He is a star who does not) bark,
(When IT bands are blown and hamstrings) be taken.
(A runner is) not (a doctor’s) fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
Within (striking distance of his patella tendon) come;
Love alters not (training) with his brief hours and weeks,
But bears it out even to the edge of doom.
If this be error and upon me (placed),
I never (ran), nor no man ever (raced). 

Sonnet 2

When forty (summers) shall besiege thy brow,
And dig deep trenches in thy (body’s) field,Thy youth's proud (legs), so (speedy) now,
Will (feel like) tatter'd weeds the (miles felled):
Then being ask'd where all thy (quickness) lies,
Where all the (speed) of thy lusty days;
To say, within thine own (chiseled thighs),
(‘Twas all the miles and impossible pace).
(Who would not) praise (thus) thy (body’s) use,
(Since) thou (can) answer 'This fair (PR) of mine
Shall sum my count. (What’s your) excuse?'
Proving his (brain to be quicker than) thine.
(To this aspire) when thou art old:
(Legs that still move and a wit that is bold.)


Amy L. Marxkors

Amy L. Marxkors is the author of The Lola Papers: Marathons, Misadventures, and How I Became a Serious Runner and Powered By Hope: The Teri Griege Story.  Click here to receive Amy's weekly article via email.

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