William Michaelian

Poems, Notes, and Drawings

Tag Archive for ‘Library Notes’

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, […]

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A Child’s Christmas

A great many years ago, my mother accidentally dropped a copy of The Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám out of the library window. About thirty years later, I saw it on my brother’s bookshelf. She’d inscribed it to him as a gift! . A Child’s Christmas Whence this peace falling into this upturned palm? . [ 970 ]

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Dostoevsky and Van Gogh

Having fortunately lived long enough to finish reading all three volumes of Vincent’s letters, I have moved on to Dostoevsky’s Diary of a Writer, in Boris Brasol’s English translation, published in two volumes by Charles Scribner’s Sons in 1949. After years of being away from Dostoevsky’s great novels and stories, coming upon him in the somewhat more casual, conversational mode of his periodical writings is much like having coffee with […]

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Valley Days

From the tips of its branches to the deepest, outermost extent of its roots, the cedar that planted itself within a few feet of our front window is as wild as a tree growing in an inaccessible canyon. This is something the sky knows and is always eager to tell. Nor is this truth questioned by squirrels, birds, insects, and worms, all of which are wild and wise in their […]

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My First Summer in the Sierra

The myriad components of this universe may be seen as varying expressions of one grand intelligence, an intelligence itself perhaps still evolving and ripening. No part is greater or lesser than another, or better or worse. Each is indispensable as long as it is needed, and plays its part in the great drama, whether star, waterfall, or blade of grass, elephant, bird, man, or mold. This includes the universe itself, […]

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The Poet Tree

To my mind, John Muir is a poet of the wilderness in the most divine literary sense — his praise and gratitude for the natural world is a song as sublime, inspirational, and wise as any sung by Homer or Whitman; in his hands, a journal entry seems the work of angels, here to recall man from the nightmare of his blind, narrow self. Muir is explorer, artist, scientist, dreamer, […]

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May Day

I’m still reading Vincent’s letters, and will be for quite some time. I continue with Thoreau’s journal, a fourteen-volume project. I’m about fifty pages into William Wetmore Story and His Friends, from Letters, Diaries, and Recollections, by Henry James, published in two volumes in 1904. I’ve begun the Library of America edition of John Muir’s nature writings. And I’ve just finished at Home with Disquiet, a wonderful new collection of […]

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A Mighty Wind Is

Yesterday evening, I learned something: to finish reading The Letters of Henry Adams is to want to read his books all over again; and it is to want to read the lives and letters of his friends. April 7, 2020   A Mighty Wind Is A mighty wind is thrashing the firs. Yesterday, the crows were busy gathering wood for their nests. When the wind dies down, they will resume. […]

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What Happened to Emily?

It would be foolish to suppose I know more about Emily Dickinson than anyone else who has taken the time to read her nearly eighteen hundred poems. In fact it’s likely I know much less. But I’ve loved her music, and will go on loving it. Cryptic as many of her poems seem to me, she was an artist in her subtle use of near rhyme and transformative rendering of […]

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