William Michaelian

Poems, Notes, and Drawings

Tag Archive for ‘Old Books’

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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I Am Redeemed

I would rather spend the day in a country graveyard than in a shopping mall. Is that so strange? I would rather handle old books and antiques than plastic merchandise. Does that make me odd? Is it obsolete to think the finest jewels are raindrops hanging from a naked limb? And that if there ever was, is, or will be a god, she is here to love me back again? […]

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Fragile

You’re familiar, of course, with the tissue guards that grace the title pages and illustrations in many old books. Like veils on faces and mists in the grove, they protect what is tender and innermost more surely than any fence or wall, or lock and key. If we are to know anything, or anyone, we must understand the connection between hearts and fingertips. Love thrives by its very weightlessness. A […]

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Front Walk

In his journal, Emerson writes of walking with Hawthorne, talking with Thoreau, Carlyle’s latest book, and Tennyson’s new poems. In mine, I write of you, in terms of my own plain self. And this is our wealth: that we are each a funny blend of science and superstition, of pain, nerve, and luck. And this is our grief — the loss of dear Waldo, Emerson’s five-year-old son. August 4, 2019 […]

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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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Seesaw

Living Dramatists

After visiting the massive black walnut tree in the park by the river, we continued half a mile along the trail to murky and muddy Goose Lake, which is swollen now, to the point that we didn’t need to go see it, it came to see us. Despite its name, we have yet to see a goose there. But there were a great many ducks, gliding across the surface and […]

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Moving Books Around

Jonathan Swift 1812-1813

At the moment there’s scarcely room here to sit, leave alone exercise free movement of my elbows. And while this is only a slight exaggeration, I’d best make no sudden moves, or I might topple the tall stacks of books everywhere around me, as the room is in a state of turmoil brought on by my decision to add two more tall bookcases, despite the fact that there’s no obvious […]

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