William Michaelian

Poems, Notes, and Drawings

Tag Archive for ‘Books’

Happiness

All of Herman Melville’s poetry, complete in a beautiful, one thousand-page book — the new Library of America edition, out just days ago, is already in this reader’s hands. This is another of those projects I enjoy so well, like the slow and careful reading aloud of Thoreau’s fourteen-volume journal, which I have currently under way, Joyce’s Ulysses and Finnegans Wake, and the complete works of other writers I have […]

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Miracles

So old, memory failed, he’d forgotten he was ready for death — one last star at sunrise, just beyond his grasp. Joy! Bookmark, Page 470, Poems, Notes, and Drawings   Miracles I sat on a rock in the shade, not far from the water’s edge. Three small boats were out, each carrying but one person. Two were floating with the current. The other, by means of an uneven-sounding outboard motor, […]

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Portent

The flesh in dreams is as real as it seems. And this is a dream. Bookmark, Page 455, Poems, Notes, and Drawings   Portent I heard a sound, turned, and saw my father approaching through the mist. He was smiling, as usual. “Your mother told me to come and get you,” he said, “so here I am. Are you ready?” I told him yes, that I was ready, and that […]

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Ask Yourself

At the rate I’m going, steady though it may be, it will take me several years to finish reading all fourteen volumes of Thoreau’s journal. I hope I have those years. But if I don’t, I’m happy to have had those leading up to them. And when I say hope, I mean I’m willing to live them if they’re given me, and that I understand very well they might not […]

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The Sunlight on My Mother’s Face

Well before daylight, in the sublime quiet, reading the letters of a thoughtful young man who later lost his life in the Civil War at the age of twenty-nine: Charles Russell Lowell, nephew of the great writer and poet, James Russell Lowell. Then, suddenly, raindrops — so few in number it reminds me of my mother sprinkling water on her ironing. June 26, 2019   The Sunlight on My Mother’s […]

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Of Lives and Letters

The Life and Letters of John Muir

All too often, those of us who call ourselves writers speak of the books we read as if their very mention were an indication of our learning, depth, and worth. I speak about them because I love them, knowing full well that even after they are read, I will be at a loss to explain the profound or mean effect they have had on me, my understanding, and my thinking. […]

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Departure

As much as by touching, reading, and simply having them near, I think any poet would gain by the calm, deliberate practice of describing the scent of old books. To describe, in essence, what can’t be described, and yet must — this is his domain and his charge; to illuminate what is haunting, yet painfully familiar — this is why she was born; and then, when she dies, to haunt […]

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Preface to the First Edition

The spirit of a book? The flesh of a man? The book is flesh. The spirit is man.   Preface to the First Edition Each time I pick it up, I find this book has changed. So many bends in the road, So many landmarks. Death. Rejuvenation. Bloody thorns and hollow skulls. The whisper of inspired stones. The velvet hush of stars. The crush of tattered ages. Garments torn that […]

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A Larger Life

In his journal, around the year 1850, Thoreau writes of the gradual disappearance of wild apples, saddened by the realization that a generation hence, they would be virtually unknown in the land. They were planted anywhere it was thought they might survive — in odd corners, along roadsides, against walls — and left to fend for themselves — like us, it occurs to me now, a lesson in abundance and […]

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Word of Mouth

Earthquakes, volcanoes, and Man — Too much yeast, God said. “Judgment Day” Songs and Letters, April 25, 2008   Word of Mouth Someone who lives well west of us, in the first row of houses overlooking the river, said that the recent high water rose into her yard, but did not reach her house. When the water receded, it left behind all manner of filth from the homeless encampment that […]

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