Friday, April 29, 2016

Five Friday: Five Poems About Books

This Friday, it's all about poems about books!

1) This first poem is actually written by my dad. I'm of course totally biased, but I think it's really good! 

A Good Book

Here goes:
Miles Vorkosigan, the pluckster,
Any time. A mystery set in
Asia, most rainy days and 
Train rides. Easy Rawlins, Fearless 
Jones, Socrates Fortlow, R.L., every
Difficult day. Sharpe and Harper,
Wherever they march again. John
Berryman, shaking that word cup.
Billy Collins, shoveling snow and
Drinking cocoa. James Wright
Dragging a hand in the black river.
Robert Bly, fresh snow on the mailbox.
Sharon Olds when I cut myself, 
Homer, when life needs to be bigger.
Spenser and Hawk, for a snack.
Wodehouse, when it's bubbly time, with
Music hall on the radio.
Dean Young for surprises.
Dickens, for family and a
Blanket by the fire.
Harry Potter to cheer and find out.
Jane Austen, to travel slowly, and
Patiently, correctly, find satisfaction.
William Gibson, for Sarah Sze in words.
Haruki Murakami, for unsettling shapes in a darkened room,
Neruda for passion. Yeats for
Fife and fairy and bee-loud glade.
T.S. Eliot for a hand at the
Shade, above the early morning
Slowly stirring street.

2) There is No Frigate Like a Book by Emily Dickinson

There is no Frigate like a Book 
To take us Lands away 
Nor any Coursers like a Page 
Of prancing Poetry – 
This Traverse may the poorest take 
Without oppress of Toll – 
How frugal is the Chariot 
That bears the Human Soul –

3) And Yet the Books by Czeslaw Milosz

And yet the books will be there on the shelves, separate beings,
That appeared once, still wet
As shining chestnuts under a tree in autumn,
And, touched, coddled, began to live
In spite of fires on the horizon, castles blown up,
Tribes on the march, planets in motion.
“We are,” they said, even as their pages
Were being torn out, or a buzzing flame
Licked away their letters. So much more durable
Than we are, whose frail warmth
Cools down with memory, disperses, perishes.
I imagine the earth when I am no more:
Nothing happens, no loss, it's still a strange pageant,
Women's dresses, dewy lilacs, a song in the valley.
Yet the books will be there on the shelves, well born,
Derived from people, but also from radiance, heights.

4) The Land of Story-books by Robert Louis Stevenson

At evening when the lamp is lit,
Around the fire my parents sit;
They sit at home and talk and sing,
And do not play at anything.
Now, with my little gun, I crawl
Away behind the sofa back.
All in the dark along the wall,
And follow round the forest track
And play at books that I have read
There, in the night, where none can spy, All in my hunter’s camp I lie, Till it is time to go to bed.
The roaring lions come to drink.
These are the hills, these are the woods, These are my starry solitudes; And there the river by whose brink I see the others far away
Home I return across the sea,
As if in firelit camp they lay, And I, like to an Indian scout, Around their party prowled about.
So, when my nurse comes in for me,
Home I return across the sea,
At my dear land of Story-books.
And go to bed with backward looks
5) Old Books by Margaret Widdemer
THE people up and down the world that talk and laugh and cry,
They're pleasant when you're young and gay, and life is all to try,
But when your heart is tired and dumb, your soul has need of ease,
There's none like the quiet folk who wait in libraries–
The counselors who never change, the friends who never go,
The old books, the dear books that understand and know!

"Why, this thing was over, child, and that deed was done,"
They say, "When Cleopatra died, two thousand years agone,
And this tale was spun for men and that jest was told
When Sappho was a singing-lass and Greece was very old,
And this thought you hide so close was sung along the wind
The day that young Orlando came a-courting Rosalind!"

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