Poetry Friday

Poetry Friday: In The Library by Charles Simic

We normally don’t feature poets that we are not deeply familiar with. This Poetry Friday, though, (hosted this week by Bibliophile at Life is Better with Books), I am willing to make an exception. As I surfed through poems that speak about the wonders of the library, I came across the name of Charles Simic.

AP Photo/Richard Drew. Click on the image to be taken to the websource.

Charles was born on 1938 in Belgrade Yugolasvia but migrated to the United States when he was around fifteen years old and earned his Bachelor’s degree from New York University. He has published 60 books of poems and won a number of awards such as the Pulitzer Prize in 1990, the International Griffin Poetry Prize for Selected Poems in 2005 and the Wallace Stevens Award from the Academy of American Poets in 2008 (source here). He was also appointed the fifteenth Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry in 2007, an award which he cherished greatly because according to Simic: “I am especially touched and honored to be selected because I am an immigrant boy who didn’t speak English until I was 15” (source here). I thought that was quite inspiring. Here is the poem that caught me, and I hope it will do the same to you. I am glad that our new theme has introduced me to this wonderful poet.

In The Library

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.

Now the sun is shining

Through the tall windows.

The library is a quiet place.

Angels and gods huddled

In dark unopened books.

The great secret lies

On some shelf Miss Jones

Passes every day on her rounds.

She’s very tall, so she keeps

Her head tipped as if listening.

The books are whispering.

I hear nothing, but she does.

Myra is a Teacher Educator and a registered clinical psychologist based in Al Ain, United Arab Emirates. Prior to moving to the Middle East, she lived for eleven years in Singapore serving as a teacher educator. She has edited five books on rediscovering children’s literature in Asia (with a focus on the Philippines, Malaysia, India, China, Japan) as part of the proceedings for the Asian Festival of Children’s Content where she served as the Chair of the Programme Committee for the Asian Children’s Writers and Illustrators Conference from 2011 until 2019. While she is an academic by day, she is a closet poet and a book hunter at heart. When she is not reading or writing about books or planning her next reads, she is hoping desperately to smash that shuttlecock to smithereens because Badminton Is Life (still looking for badminton courts here at UAE - suggestions are most welcome).

3 comments on “Poetry Friday: In The Library by Charles Simic

  1. The imagery of the sky at dusk being thick with angels (like flies) is fascinating. This is such an interesting poem… I hadn’t heard of Charles Simic but now I want to read more of his poetry.


  2. We’ve got to get the angels and gods out of the books and into the world!


  3. Pingback: A July Round Up: Blogiversary, Photo Journal, Reading Challenges, July Winner for AWB Reading Challenge and Much Much More «

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