Now the ridge



flue-dry, the rocks

parching hot &

where sluice


to clear roots &

break weeds down brambly,

light finds a luminous


vertical: it will

go to a hundred

today: even the

zucchini vine has

rolled over

on its



~ A. R. Ammons


“Sweet Repose” by Valentine Cameron Prinsep (1838-1904)

Praised be the moon of books! that doth above

A world of men, the fallen Past behold,

And fill the spaces else so void and cold

To make a very heaven again thereof;

As when the sun is set behind a grove,

And faintly unto nether ether rolled,

All night his whiter image and his mould

Grows beautiful with looking on her love.


Thou therefore, moon of so divine a ray,

Lend to our steps both fortitude and light!

Feebly along a venerable way

They climb the infinite, or perish quite;

Nothing are days and deeds to such as they,

While in this liberal house thy face is bright.


                           ~ Louise Imogen Guiney


The Reading Room of the British Museum by Riccardo Cambiassi


And it grows, the vain


even for us with our

bright green sins:


behold the dry guest,

the wind,

as it stirs up quarrels

among magnolia boughs


and plays its serene

tune on

the prows of all the leaves—

and then is gone,


leaving the leaves

still there,

the tree still green, but breaking

the heart of the air.


~ Carlo Betocchi


“Magnolia Gardens” by Alfred Hutty, 1920


The yellow goldenrod is dressed

In gala-day attire;

The glowing redweed by the fence

Shines like a crimson fire;

And from the hot field’s farthest edge

The cricket’s soft refrain

With mellow accent tells the tale

That August’s here again.


In shining blue the aster wild

Unfolds her petals fair;

The clematis, upreaching, seeks

To clasp and kiss the air;

The brilliant poppy flaunts her head

Amidst the ripening grain,

And adds her voice to swell the song

That August’s here again. […]


The wild hop, from the young elm’s bough,

Sways on the languid breeze,

And here and there the autumn tints

Gleam faintly through the trees.

All Nature helps to swell the song

And chant the same refrain;

July and June have slipped away

And August’s here again.


                         ~ Helen Maria Winslow


“Mirabellgarten” by Hans Wilt, 1916

After an arduous move closer to my new campus, I’m rewarding myself with a long-awaited home library.  And, yes…I may have to sleep among my books in the lone furnished room.  How lovely is that!


I couldn’t live a week without a private library – indeed, I’d part with all my furniture and squat and sleep on the floor before I’d let go of the 1,500 or so books I possess.

~ Howard Phillips Lovecraft


Georg Reimer, 1850-1866

On the express train to Vienna

she writes in her diary

notes about Rome and Naples.


Ink marks like parthenogenetic aphids,

pages like blood smears

of homing pigeons.


She is alone, gray, reconciled,

a Leda long after the swan’s departure,

Odysseus retired at Lotophagitis.


Back home, in Maryland,

the notebook will be interred

in the archetypal drawer,


among the yellowed love letters,

among the infant hair curls,

among the dried adult flowers,


near the cushion where the castrated cat dreams

while Mahler’s forever forever forever

chokes in the green wallpaper.


It is her message to imagined little sons;

it is her membership in the club

of Swifts, Goethes, Rimbauds, Horatiuses and

                                              deathwatch beetles.


It is her monument outlasting bronze,

five-dimensional reality, the last engraving

of primeval man on reindeer bone,


the last drop

of the fluid soul

before evaporation.


                                            ~ Miroslav Holub


Anonymous (19th century, French)

I want to find my way back to her,

to help her, to grab her hand, pull her

up from the wooden floor of the stacks

where she’s reading accounts of the hatchet

murders of Lizzie Borden’s harsh parents

as if she could learn something about

life if she knew all the cuts and slashes;


her essay on Wordsworth or Keats

only a knot in her belly, a faint pressure

at her temples.  She’s pale, it’s five years

before the first migraine, but the dreamy

flush has already drained from her face.

I want to lead her out of the library,

to sit with her on a bench under a still


living elm tree, be one who understands,

but even today I don’t understand,

I want to shake her and want to assure her,

to hold her – but love’s not safe for her,

although she craves what she knows

of it, love’s a snare, a closed door,

a dank cell.  Maybe she should just leave


the campus, take a train to Fall River,

inspect Lizzie’s room, the rigid corsets

and buttoned shoes, the horsehair sofas,

the kitchen’s rank stew.  Hell.  Bleak

loyal judgmental journals of a next-door

neighbor – not a friend, Lizzie had no friend.

If only she could follow one trajectory


of thought, a plan, invent a journey

out of this place, a vocation –

but without me to guide her, where

would she go?


~ From “Girl in a Library” by Gail Mazur (University of Chicago Press, 2005)


Frederic Leighton, 1877

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