William Michaelian

Poems, Notes, and Drawings

Dry as Dust

A short dream: Without questioning its odd location, I realize that the bookshelf outside on our front step would be more useful inside. There are only a few books on it, while in the house there are enough scattered and stacked about to fill it and more. What strikes me most, though, is the near absence of dust. Why is there so much more dust on the other shelves inside, and so little on the one outside? Now, wide awake, I realize: our roof keeps out the rain.

This brings me to a book-related matter as yet unresolved. Should I purchase Library of America’s forthcoming two-volume collection of Richard Wilbur’s highly regarded translations of Molière? I already have, and have read, a complete vintage set (1875-1876) of those done by Henri Van Laun, as well as a bilingual edition (1907) with the English rendered by A.R. Waller, which I have not read. It should be noted that the person who asks this meaningless question also has half a dozen English translations of Montaigne, and of several other of the world’s great writers. Many times over the years, it has proven useful to compare — not nearly as useful as would be learning the languages of the originals themselves, which is something I have tried, to my enjoyment and gratification, and still do, but with only a small degree of practical success.

During the summer, the dust on the farm would become so powdery that once stirred it would hang in the air for hours, and could be tasted on breeze-less evenings. One could become dirty simply by sitting outside under the stars. That was a much longer dream.

September 26, 2021

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Categories: Dreams, New Poems & Pieces

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