William Michaelian

Poems, Notes, and Drawings

Tag Archive for ‘Library of America’

Destruction and Joy

Finished early this morning: The Diversity of Life, by Edward O. Wilson. The leaves are changing in the canyon. Yesterday morning, all through our three-and-a-half-mile walk from North Falls to Winter Falls, to Twin Falls, and then back to North Falls and on to Upper North Falls, the canopy was dripping from the previous night’s rain. In fact, it was raining, but the rain itself was being absorbed well above […]

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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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It Might Be a Stone

Blue elderberry — one fairly dense shrub about ten feet tall alongside the path above Goose Lake; another twice as high, several hundred feet farther on where the path and dry stream bed turn; a third, the smallest, but with a crop every bit as ample as the others, not far north. Mission Lake, below the old black cottonwood, green with algae, very shallow, dotted with softly illuminated shore birds, […]

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What is Wisdom?

Australopithecus afarensis. Homo habilis. Homo erectus. Homo sapiens. What is generally referred to as ancient wisdom is of such recent vintage, that one can only begin to wonder what wisdom really is. And, biologically speaking, when, and where, and how, did the soul creep in? Was it present in the man-apes with brains the size of those in chimpanzees? Did God say — each word requiring millions of years to […]

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Standing and Crawling

I am on my feet; the laptop is resting on four sleeved volumes — two containing the work of Nora Zeale Hurston, and the others, nine novels from the Harlem Renaissance. The left side of the computer is above and partly hides my old Royal typewriter. To the right, The Life of Langston Hughes. Behind them, Plutarch’s Lives. Behind them, the complete writings of Robert Browning. And behind all that, […]

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With Or Without Us

Three vultures atop a dead tree at the edge of Goose Lake. The water has receded; the surface is crowded again with lilies. Around the edge, a dense colony of Sagittaria latifolia, the potato-like tubers of which, according to Lewis and Clark, were prized by the natives and filled their canoes during their watery harvest. Wapato. In bloom and attracting bees on the main trail, the fuzzy pink spikes of […]

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How Your Speech

After some time away, I’ve drifted back into Emerson’s journal, where, after reading for a while today, I found myself on Page 590 of the first volume of the two-volume Library of America edition. This time around, the searching sweetness of his observations makes me feel like a butterfly or hummingbird; his hesitations, confessions, and insights are flowers. It’s a springtime, summertime reading. Our grapes are in bloom. After losing […]

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In Lieu Of

Ralph Waldo Emerson and William Wells Brown are both in Europe now, seeing the sights, meeting people, writing their observations and travel notes. One is a free man, wondering what freedom really is. The other is a fugitive, who knows what freedom is, or thinks he does. This leaves us to ask the reader of these two books if he knows. And he replies by saying that whatever he knows, […]

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Knowing and Not Knowing

While reading Emerson’s journal this morning, I came to a one-line entry of such a painful, personal nature that even now, almost two hundred years after it was written, I feel I have invaded the poor man’s privacy. Yet I am glad I read it. Had I been the editor, I would have thought long and hard about including it, but I am sure I would have done so — […]

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William Wells Brown

The Library of America volume devoted to the writings of William Wells Brown begins with his 1847 Narrative of William W. Brown, a Fugitive Slave. I’ve read twenty-eight of its forty-five pages thus far. And while it has revealed no general detail about slavery that I haven’t already encountered, the simple, stark clarity of Brown’s writing, coupled with his frank honesty in terms of his personal regrets and easily forgiven […]

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