Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Percy and Books by Mary Oliver, a poem

This poem by Mary Oliver arrived in my email inbox today, appended to a notice from the Reference Department at Newark Public Library.

Percy and Books (Eight), by Mary Oliver

Percy does not like it when I read a book.
He puts his face over the top of it and moans.
He rolls his eyes, sometimes he sneezes.
The sun is up, he says, and the wind is down.
The tide is out and the neighbor's dogs are playing.
But Percy, I say, Ideas! The elegance of language!
The insights, the funniness, the beautiful stories
that rise and fall and turn into strength, or courage.
Books? says Percy. I ate one once, and it was enough. Let's go.

The poem is from Oliver's collection, Red Bird (2008)

I didn't mean to post poems two days in a row on the blog, but ironically, modern technology pushed me into into the world of poetry. Yesterday, I took a digital camera on my lunchtime walk, thinking I would make images that were absolutely copyright free to post on the blog. Then I used Grangers' Poetry database to find poems about (keyword) "woods" and chose a suitable poem to post, illustrated by my picture of the swampy area behind the library. Today, the New Jersey librarians' listserv brought me the usual array of notices, salespitches from publishers and bibliophilic chatter, some useful, but taken as a whole, mostly causing a strong feeling of Email Overload. Was it a reward to me for diligently going through my entire inbox, that one email brought this terrific poem? Proving that new means of communication are not incompatible with the old. Or maybe proving the adage, it's an ill wind that blows no good - even a surfeit of digital hot air in your inbox can bring a hidden gem.
PS: my Border Collie ate the dog obedience book that I borrowed from the first library I worked in.

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