Books, etc.

So much for celebrating walking — Hobgoblin and I went on a three-hour walk today and about halfway through I could feel one of the muscles in upper back/shoulder area tighten up into an ugly knot, and now I can’t easily move my head. I’ve had trouble with tight muscles and knots and pinched nerves in my upper back for quite a while now. I’m pretty sure this began shortly after my first rather disastrous backpacking trip for which I carried a backpack that was much too heavy and which apparently did a lot of damage.

Funny, as much as I’m loving reading The Walk, it hasn’t yet talked about how much walking can hurt, and yet, much as I love walking, it quite often hurts very badly.

Anyway, just a couple quick notes on books — I finished Rainer Maria Rilke’s Duino Elegies recently and thought they were extraordinarily beautiful. They cover so much it’s hard to describe what they are about, but it seems like they are about everything important — birth, death, angels, lovers, time, beauty … rather than try to describe the book, I should simply give you a couple quotations:

Who has turned us around this way so that we’re always whatever we do
in the posture of someone who is leaving? Like a man
on the final hill that shows him his whole valley
one last time who turns and stands there lingering —
that’s how we live always saying goodbye.

How we squander our sorrows gazing beyond them into the sad
wastes of duration to see if maybe they have a limit.
But they are our winter foliage, our dark evergreens
one of the seasons of our secret year — and not only a season
they are situation, settlement, lair, soil, home.

If you are looking for some great poetry to read, I highly recommend this.

And I’ve begun Virginia Woolf’s The Voyage Out; I’m excited to be reading Woolf again, and so far I’m enjoying it — I was particularly pleased to see Richard and Clarissa Dalloway appear as characters here; I’m curious to learn more about why Woolf used these characters multiple times and how they develop from one novel to another. Fortunately, I have Julia Briggs’s book Virginia Woolf: An Inner Life on hand, which perhaps will explain some of this for me.


Filed under Books, Life, Poetry

9 responses to “Books, etc.

  1. hepzibah

    I hope you feel better! Keep walking though, I walk everyday and I couldn’t imagine my days without it 🙂


  2. Ooh, from one upper back pain sufferer to another, I know what you’re going through. Hope it feels better soon. (Lie flat on the floor, with your arms stretched above your head and stretch your arms and legs as much as you can as you breathe deeply in and out ten times. Then, on you hands and knees, lift and stretch straight, so they’re parallel to the floor, your right arm and left leg and hold them there for a second. Alternate this stretch with left arm and right leg fifteen times. These things SOMEtimes will help). I started The Voyage Out a few years ago, but for some reason, never finished it and have been meaning to get back to it. I, too, was fascinated by the appearance of the Dalloways.


  3. The Rilke quotes are beautiful. I will definitely be getting myself a copy of the book. Sorry about you back. Have you ever thought about visiting a chiropractor? Or perhaps a deep tissue massage? Back trouble is no good. It can cause so many other problems. So take care of yourself!


  4. Ouch! I hope your naughty muscles ease soon. :-/

    It is interesting that Woolf returns to Richard and Clarissa Dalloway in later years. Perhaps there is something about it in her diaries? I can’t remember anything specific but I have a sense that her decision was purposeful. Clarissa and Richard are so different in ‘The Voyage Out’ aren’t they? But perhaps that is only because we see them from the outside? In ‘Mrs Dalloway’ we’re so caught up in Clarissa’s interiority that she *feels* like a different person – a much more sympathetic and troubled woman – and we forget that to the outside world she is still the social butterfly, flighty, indifferently married and middle-aged. I’m looking forward to more posts on ‘The Voyage Out’. (I love, love, love the ending…)


  5. I have problems with muscles knotting up in my upper left, between shoulder and neck, so that I can’t move my head without very painful twinges. It stems from sitting at a computer all day long for most of my adult life and from my body dumping stress in that region. I can strongly recommend seeing a remedial sports massage therapist. He/she will work the knots out for you and you’ll feel like a whole new person! I get this done fairly regularly — had a session on Thursday, in fact — and every time I wish I had have made the appointment sooner. This kind of massage also helps clear your system of toxins, so days later you feel pretty damn amazing!


  6. Sorry to hear about the back pain. Sometimes I sleep funny and then my neck and upper back hurts and I can’t turn my head–not fun. It’s amazing how one small muscle (or maybe there are several there) can totally throw you off physically! I really liked The Voyage Out. I think I would actually like to read that one again sometime. I agree with Victoria–there is a scene at the end that still stays with me–so wonderfully done!


  7. Oh dear. Take care of that back. These things don’t just “go away.”


  8. Hepzibah — I will keep walking, most definitely! I love it and couldn’t do without it either. Emily — thanks for the suggestions! I haven’t tried them yet, but I will at some point; instead I’ve been trying the “ignore it until it goes away” method, and it’s been working pretty well 🙂 Stefanie, I think you will really like Rilke when you do read him. And about seeing a chiropractor — I’ve become quite good friends with mine, I’m in to see her so often! Victoria, I’m so glad to hear The Voyage Out has a great ending! I’m enjoying it immensely. And I think you’re absolutely right about seeing Mrs. Dalloway from the outside — I think that’s why I’m enjoying it so much, seeing another perspective on her. Kimbofo — excellent suggestion. I think getting sports massage would be a wonderful thing. Danielle, isn’t it amazing how significant one small muscle can be? I’m glad you liked The Voyage Out — I’m enjoying it very much too. Sylvia — thanks, I will! 🙂


  9. Oh poor you = I often get cricked necks and shoulders and they are so tiresomely painful. Do take care of yourself and get the Hobgoblin to give you a good massage. I’ve bought a new copy of the Rilke poems because I found I’d lost my old one, and I’m looking forward very much to catching up with you!


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