Friday, June 28, 2013

Poetry Friday: Charles Simic

In the Library
by Charles Simic   

for Octavio


There's a book called
"A Dictionary of Angels."
No one has opened it in fifty years,
I know, because when I did,
The covers creaked, the pages
Crumbled. There I discovered

The angels were once as plentiful
As species of flies.
The sky at dusk
Used to be thick with them.
You had to wave both arms
Just to keep them away.

You can read the rest of the poem here.

And here you can read Charles Simic's essay on why he still writes poetry.  It begins like this: 

When my mother was very old and in a nursing home, she surprised me one day toward the end of her life by asking me if I still wrote poetry. When I blurted out that I still do, she stared at me with incomprehension. I had to repeat what I said, till she sighed and shook her head, probably thinking to herself this son of mine has always been a little nuts. Now that I’m in my seventies, I’m asked that question now and then by people who don’t know me well. Many of them, I suspect, hope to hear me say that I’ve come my senses and given up that foolish passion of my youth and are visibly surprised to hear me confess that I haven’t yet. They seem to think there is something downright unwholesome and even shocking about it, as if I were dating a high school girl, at my age, and going with her roller-skating that night.

Amy has today's roundup here.

12 comments:

Tara @ A Teaching Life said...

Discovering plentiful angels...what ever could be wrong with practicing an art that allows for this?!

Irene Latham said...

Poetry as chess! I love it, Ruth. It IS a silly question...love Simic's answers. Thank you for sharing! xo

Steve Peterson said...

Ruth,
You sure do have a knack for picking some wonderful poems. Thanks for Simic's poem and his essay. I chuckled (a wry little chuckle) when he said this:

"They seem to think there is something downright unwholesome and even shocking about it, as if I were dating a high school girl, at my age, and going with her roller-skating that night."

LInda Baie said...

I saw this essay earlier in the week & just re-read it, Ruth. I enjoy every bit, but that part at the beginning about his mother's questioning, & then at the end, the 'more pressing things'. He is a writer, including poetry, to appreciate, isn't he? The poem would be appreciated this week at ALA, don't you think? Miss Jones, and the whispering... Thanks for sharing, I think I'll look up more by Simic!

jama said...

That's a beautiful poem, Ruth. I haven't read much Simic, but now I'd like to see more. Interesting essay, too. Thanks!

Tabatha said...

Not surprised that librarians can hear things the rest of us miss...

Margaret Simon said...

When I went to the link to Charles Simic's poem, I saw his photo with that smirk that you would expect to see when he finished reading about Miss Jones, the librarian. Simic is a fascinating poet that I would love to meet someday.

Sarah SSM said...

This is great. Thank you.

Amy Ludwig VanDerwater said...

Exquisite, thoughtful post. Thank you a hundred times over. Happy Poetry Saturday!

Anonymous said...

What a perfect poem to share, Ruth - thank you. I had a conversation with some artists/book lovers this week about "getting" books online, in bookstores, or - the LIBRARY, and there was concern raised about its future. (We've all done all of the above, of course.) I hope there will always be libraries, full of angels....

Mary Lee said...

I love the idea of having to "wave both arms" to keep the angels away. And now where are they? The library! Where only Miss Jones can here them! (I wanna be Miss Jones when I grow up!)

And yes, that smirk of his. The same look Steve must have had on his face when he read the bit about rollerskating with a high school girl!!

Michelle Heidenrich Barnes said...

Gorgeous poem! It's a keeper, for sure. I always knew the library was a special place. Now I know why. All that angel whispering....