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In a Library -- Emily Dickinson

Guest poem sent in by Sutirth Dey
(Poem #1347) In a Library
 A precious, mouldering pleasure 't is
 To meet an antique book,
 In just the dress his century wore;
 A privilege, I think,

 His venerable hand to take,
 And warming in our own,
 A passage back, or two, to make
 To times when he was young.

 His quaint opinions to inspect,
 His knowledge to unfold
 On what concerns our mutual mind,
 The literature of old;

 What interested scholars most,
 What competitions ran
 When Plato was a certainty.
 And Sophocles a man;

 When Sappho was a living girl,
 And Beatrice wore
 The gown that Dante deified.
 Facts, centuries before,

 He traverses familiar,
 As one should come to town
 And tell you all your dreams were true;
 He lived where dreams were sown.

 His presence is enchantment,
 You beg him not to go;
 Old volumes shake their vellum heads
 And tantalize, just so.
-- Emily Dickinson
Comments:
I love to collect books. Recently my quest led me to a dingy shop in
Bangalore that is famous all over India for its collection of old and rare
books. I was in a hurry and intended to spend no more than 10-15 minutes
there. Ended up spending approximately three hours and during almost the
entire duration, this poem kept on going through my mind. I had read this
poem several times before, but that day I felt it!!

As far as the poem goes, I hardly find any need for comments. The
personification of the old book, the 'time machine'-like ability of the book
to transport the readers to its own era and finally the crash back to the
reader's own time- is entirely magical. Anyone who has read an old,
musty-smelling, slightly tattered volume will vouch for whatever is
expressed here. Obviously, this feeling is lacking entirely when you read
poems/books over the internet!!!

Sutirth Dey

[Martin adds]

I liked Sutirth's commentary, since I have often had the same experience - a
poem, or perhaps a single line, attaches itself to a particular occasion,
and my experience of both the poem and the occasion are enhanced thereby.
Poetry truly is a collaborative effort between the writer and the reader, a
fact that overly analytical critics often forget.

Sutirth also asked
>  Can you tell me what happened to the site:
>      [broken link] http://www.geocities.com/~spanoudi/poems
> The site has been removed and I can not find its new location. It is a great
> loss to the entire poetry reading community of the world.

Since the answer is of general interest, here's the new location:
  http://www.theotherpages.org/poems/

martin

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