Up The River Without A Paddle

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It is rumored that author and Richmonder Edgar Allen Poe also swam in the James River's rapids. Poe would travel miles upriver for fun, swimming where possible and hiking along the shores when necessary. His poem, The Raven, was adapted by David Warner just prior to Thom's attempt to swim the Falls.

 

THE CRAVEN

Once, upon a midday dreary, while I paddled weak and weary
Over many a quaint and curious boulder ’twixt James River’s shores,
While I swam on upstream, splashing, suddenly there came a crashing
As of someone wildly thrashing, thrashing with me ’twixt those shores.
"Some competitor," I muttered, "Thrashing with me ’twixt these shores,
Only this and nothing more."

Far across the river peering, as I swam on, wondering, fearing,
Doubting, dreaming dreams of Guinness swimmers never dreamed before,
Swimming with my will unbroken, though the river gave no token,
And the only words there spoken were the whispered words, "Swim more."
This I whispered, and an echo murmured back the words, "Swim more."
Merely this, and nothing more.

Back into the current turning, all my soul within me burning,
Soon again I heard a thrashing somewhat louder than before.
"Surely," said I, "Surely that is someone swimming like a rat is,
Let me see, then, who this rat is, and this mystery explore.
Let my strokes be still a moment and this mystery explore.
Tis the rapids, nothing more."

Up I stood, and with a shudder, saw, with many a splash and sputter
Next to me a stately swimmer from the saintly days of yore.
Not the least obeisance made he, not a moment splashed or splayed he,
But, with hand out, greeting made he ’mongst the boulders ’twixt the shores,
There among the watery boulders ’twixt the great James River’s shores,
Said, "Hi, I’m Edgar. Swim some more?

"When I heard that your were trying," Edgar said, myself espying,
Holding fast my shaking hand within his iron grip no more,
"Trying here to swim eight miles, make it into Guinness’ files
Swimming up the James’ defiles my six miles and two miles more,
Thought you’d like some competition as you struggle ’twixt these shores,
Only this, and nothing more."

Having said which, onward made he. Not a moment longer stayed he,
But on up the river flayed he, all limbs thrashing at his chore.
What else could I do but follow? though my hopes now felt so hollow,
And much water did I swallow as I swam through river’s roar.
For a dead guy, he swam well, and oped a gap between us, sure,
But I closed it ever more.

And then at six-mile marker, as my hopes were growing darker,
I pulled even, and a spark, or flash, or fire his visage bore.
All aglow to me appeared he. With a flash and heat that seared me
Up in smoke there disappeared he, and I swam my two miles more.
And the crowds there cheered my record, and upon the shore I swore
To think of Edgar nevermore.

© 1999 by David A. Warner. Licensed to this website by the author.


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Above all, life should be fun!
-unknown-

Caution: This sport could cause injury up to and including your death!
Proper equipment, practice, safety support, and adult supervision are required. Have fun and stay safe!