The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner by Alden Nowlan: Summary and Critical Analysis

The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner is a short ironic modern poem by Alden Nowlan. This poem is simply an experience of the feelings a poet had while writing it. The feelings that the poet wants to mention are weaved within this given texture.

Alden Nowlan

The poet was writing a love poem. His wife enters into his room and disturbs him. The writer has to stop writing to look at her. He might have been writing about his love towards his wife, but when she herself appears before him, the poet does not like her appearance. It is a paradox in the life of an imaginative artist. His wife disturbs his meditative mood. Because of her lively appearance, he has to stop writing. The sequence of imagination and emotion gets lost at once. The loss of imagination and emotion causes the loss of the poem itself. The result is that he begins to curse her.

It is an interesting paradox and an inevitable paradox- that the sensitive artist can imagine and write volumes on the extremity and the mysteriousness of the love. But when the lover comes into his real life with her blood, flesh and bones he tends to turn his mind from his imagination. His lover’s appearance shatters his imagination so he disdains at her harshness of reality. The poet is cursing her because she suddenly comes into the room. The sequence of imagination and emotion gets lost, the loss of imagination and emotion caused the loss of the poem itself. The result is, the poet ‘silently curses her.’

The speaker of this poem is a sensitive person. The persons who compose poems are usually sensitive. The stone-hearted man could never imagine and create such beautiful things. The speaker is strolling in the garden of the imagination. He is searching for the beautiful flowers to weave a garland. At the peak of his imagination, his wife enters into his dreamland and he is disturbed.

The title of the poem is comparatively longer than the text. This makes the poem unique and interesting. The writer has applied new and modern technique. Abruptly the poet’s wife comes in, and after contemplation suggested by the gap between the lines he curses her. A wife usually gets cursed while the husband is writing a love poem. This is the permanent irony in the life of lovers who write love poems.

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Biography of Alden Nowlan