Tag Archives: book

I was the slightest in the House —

I was the slightest in the HouseI was the slightest in the House —
I took the smallest Room —
At night, my little Lamp, and Book —
And one Geranium —

So stationed I could catch the Mint
That never ceased to fall —
And just my Basket —
Let me think — I’m sure —
That this was all —

I never spoke — unless addressed —
And then, ’twas brief and low —
I could not bear to live — aloud —
The Racket shamed me so —

And if it had not been so far —
And any one I knew
Were going — I had often thought
How noteless — I could die —

I know where Wells grow — Droughtless Wells —

I know where Wells grow Droughtless Wells
I know where Wells grow — Droughtless Wells —
Deep dug — for Summer days —
Where Mosses go no more away —
And Pebble — safely plays —

It’s made of Fathoms — and a Belt —
A Belt of jagged Stone —
Inlaid with Emerald — half way down —
And Diamonds — jumbled on —

It has no Bucket — Were I rich
A Bucket I would buy —
I’m often thirsty — but my lips
Are so high up — You see —

I read in an Old fashioned Book
That People “thirst no more” —
The Wells have Buckets to them there —
It must mean that — I’m sure —

Shall We remember Parching — then?
Those Waters sound so grand —
I think a little Well — like Mine —
Dearer to understand —

Knows how to forget!

Knows how to forget!Knows how to forget!
But could It teach it?
Easiest of Arts, they say
When one learn how

Dull Hearts have died
In the Acquisition
Sacrificed for Science
Is common, though, now —

I went to School
But was not wiser
Globe did not teach it
Nor Logarithm Show

“How to forget”!
Say — some — Philosopher!
Ah, to be erudite
Enough to know!

Is it in a Book?
So, I could buy it —
Is it like a Planet?
Telescopes would know —

If it be invention
It must have a Patent.
Rabbi of the Wise Book
Don’t you know?

Not in this World to see his face —

Not in this World to see his face --Not in this World to see his face —
Sounds long — until I read the place
Where this — is said to be
But just the Primer — to a life —
Unopened — rare — Upon the Shelf —
Clasped yet — to Him — and Me —

And yet — My Primer suits me so
I would not choose — a Book to know
Than that — be sweeter wise —
Might some one else — so learned — be —
And leave me — just my A — B — C —
Himself — could have the Skies —

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A precious — mouldering pleasure — ’tis —

A precious -- mouldering pleasure -- 'tis --A precious — mouldering pleasure — ’tis —
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 thought to ascertain
On Themes concern our mutual mind —
The Literature of Man —

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 born —

His presence is Enchantment —
You beg him not to go —
Old Volume shake their Vellum Heads
And tantalize — just so —

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‘Twas the old — road — through pain —

'Twas the old -- road -- through pain --‘Twas the old — road — through pain —
That unfrequented — one —
With many a turn — and thorn —
That stops — at Heaven —

This — was the Town — she passed —
There — where she — rested — last —
Then — stepped more fast —
The little tracks — close prest —
Then — not so swift —
Slow — slow — as feet did weary — grow —
Then — stopped — no other track!

Wait! Look! Her little Book —
The leaf — at love — turned back —
Her very Hat —
And this worn shoe just fits the track —
Herself — though — fled!

Another bed — a short one —
Women make — tonight —
In Chambers bright —
Too out of sight — though —
For our hoarse Good Night —
To touch her Head!

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“the scariest poet since Emily Dickinson”

The Poetry Foundation podcast, Poetry Off the Shelf, has recently re-broadcast a piece about Rae Armantrout, “More Than Meets the I,” whom Ange Milenko calls “the scariest poet since Emily Dickinson.”

Readers who are drawn in by Dickinson’s gnomic, witty, sharp verse would be well-advised to try Armantrout. Like Dickinson, she takes on big topics–the nature of the self, the meaning of love and pity, the way language works or doesn’t–in brief, clever poems that pack much into a short space. Her poems are short, but by no means easy; they’re puzzling, sometimes inscrutable, and haunting.

The thrust of Milenko’s piece is that Armantrout stands apart from most contemporary American poets by her use (or, more often than not, non-use) of “I.” She’s not a confessional poet; we don’t learn anything significant about her private life from her poems, much the way Dickinson’s private life is veiled (and made that much more open to overwrought speculation for its invisibility). Instead, she offers a cool and detached “I,” an observer and commentator but not a participant.

It’s this detachment that makes her scary, in the way Dickinson can be scary. Armantrout doesn’t offer just pithy observations; she offers riddles about important things told in a seemingly off-handed manner. But she doesn’t offer answers to those riddles.

You can read more Armantrout at the Poetry Foundation site, or dip into some of her books: