Posts filed under ‘poetry’

poem for a sculpture

Segal Woman with Sunglasses on Bench
This sculpture by George Segal sits on a bench at the Milton S. Eisenhower Library at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland. An anonymous sestina was recently found in its hands:

Dearest Muse,
I do not invoke but address you,
For I wish to thank you for your watch
Over this humble (or not so) university library
Where thousands and I have spent hours in study.
Please accept this work.

O, I cry to passerby—have you seen her? Have you come inside? Have you
Paid a salute for a blessing on your work
From the Muse of the Milton S. Eisenhower Library?
There she sits by the door to the quad, a study
In worn marble on a plain iron bench. She keeps watch
Over all those who enter her domain. (They smile. Do I amuse?)

She wears a watch
And goggles pushed up into her hair—a practical Muse.
I imagine she has come fresh from diving, some study
Of fantastic ocean creatures or slowgrowing plankton—the steady work
Of science as it takes the world and me and you
Forward, sometimes through this library.

Students, teachers, passerby—there is so much to do in a good library.
Sometimes you can even get done your work.
More often you are caught in the endless flood of work, study,
Essay, friends, study, and the sun rises but not on D-level and you stare into dead space and muse
That somewhere out there is the world (you’re bad at it) and friends (who all got this assignment done like competent people) and food (you don’t recall the taste of strawberries, nor the sound of water, the touch of grass…) and you, in the dark, useless, last, you—
Rest. Restore. A library has comfortable chairs, and the Muse will keep watch.

There is merit, too, perhaps more in lighter study:
Humanity in its prime, learning and laughing as they amuse
Themselves and each other at their work.
In a word: people-watch!
Joining with near-stranger to work a project, emerging from the depths to unforeseen companionship, you
Will find no purer kinship than in a university library.

And what they build—oh, the works!
Endocrinal Effects of Neural Synapse Protease to Satanism in Dungeons & Dragons: A study;
Blueprints for a rocket, a solar shade, a perfect clockwork watch;
Essays and stories and poetry, the architecture itself for a whole new library—
For inspiration, above all, is the gift of a Muse.

 

Thanks, Esau Katz, for bringing this to my attention!

June 5, 2017 at 1:30 pm Leave a comment


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