Books and Libraries

Poems

Look inside
Hardcover
$20.00 US
4.34"W x 6.49"H x 0.81"D  
On sale Nov 02, 2021 | 272 Pages | 978-0-593-32019-8
| Grades 9-12 + AP/IB
Here is an enchanting book about books: a beautiful hardcover Pocket Poets anthology that testifies to the passion books and libraries have inspired through the ages and around the world.

Books have long captured the love, imagination, even the veneration, of readers everywhere. Emily Dickinson envisions these precious objects as “Frigates” that “take us Lands away”; Alberto Rios calls them “the deli offerings of civilization itself.” This affection extends to the hallowed gathering places of the written word: the libraries and bookshops where one can best hear “a choir of authors murmuring inside their books,” as Billy Collins has it. 

The poets collected here range from the writer of Ecclesiastes in the third century BCE through such pillars of world literature as Catullus, Horace, T’ao Ch’ien, Dante, Petrarch, Boccaccio, Pierre de Ronsard, Lope de Vega, Shakespeare, Goethe, and Wordsworth; more recent luminaries include Jorge Luis Borges, C. P. Cavafy, Gabriela Mistral, Wallace Stevens, Iku Takenaka, Pablo Neruda, Wislawa Szymborska, Maya Angelou, and Derek Walcott.
ANDREW SCRIMGEOUR is Dean of Libraries Emeritus, Drew University, Madison, New Jersey. He is Archivist Emeritus of the Society of Biblical Literature and the founding archivist of the American Academy of Religion. His essays and short stories have been published in The New York Times. View titles by Andrew Scrimgeour
The Love of Books
Wallace Stevens, “The House Was Quiet and The World Was Calm”
Dylan Thomas, from “Notes on the Art of Poetry”
Theodore Beza, “Hayle to My Bookes”
Robert William Service, “Book Lover”
William Wordsworth, “Wings Have We”
Emily Dickinson, “There is No Frigate Like a Book”
William Shakespeare, “Sonnet XXIII”
George Crabbe, from “The Library”
Tsitsi Jaji, “Unaccompanied Minor”
Maya Angelou, “I Love the Look of Words”
Latin Proverb, “Words Fly Away”
Tessa Ransford, “In Convents and Crypts”
Henry Vaughan, “To His Books”
John Donne, “A Valediction of the Book”
Pablo Neruda, “Ode to the Book, II)”
Lynn Powell, “Sword Drill”
Tony Harrison, “Book Ends”
 
All Sorts of Readers
Samuel Taylor Coleridge, “There Are Only Four Kinds of Readers”
Louis MacNeice, “The British Museum Reading Room”
Stephen Kuusisto, “Night Seasons”
Coventry Patmore “The Revelation”
Hilaire René Belloc, “On His Books”
Anonymous, “A Description of a College Room”
Pierre de Ronsard, “To His Valet”
T’ao Ch’ien, “Reading the Book of Hills and Seas”
Muddupalani, “How to Read a Book”
Paul Valéry, “The Angel Handed Me a Book”
Czeslaw Milosz, “Father in the Library”
 
Turning the Page
Billy Collins, “Books”
David S. Herrstrom, “Sacred Books”
Stephen Dunn, “The Book and I”
Charles Bukowski, “They Arrived in Time”
Dante, from Inferno
Gjertrud Schnackenberg, “Supernatural Love”
John Burnside, “September Evening: Deer at Big Basin”
Yi Sha, “Sunday”
Flavio Santi, “Dear Mary”
Juan Manuel Roca, “The Library of the Blind”
Mona Van Duyn, “In Bed with a Book”
Iku Takenaka, “My Books
Mel Pryor, “In a Secondhand Bookshop”
Agi Mishol, “Poetry Reading”
C.P. Cavafy, “Very Rarely”
Derek Walcott, “This Page is a Cloud”
Jean Sprackland, “The Girl Who Ate Books”
John Glenday, “For My Wife, Reading in Bed”
 
Discovering Reading
Joyce Sutphen, “Things You Didn’t Put on Your Résumé”
Julia Alvarez, “Waiting for My Father to Pick Me Up at the Library
Laurie L. Patton, “On Learning a Sacred Language in Childhood”
Lewis Carroll, “What is the Use of a Book?”
Patricia Hooper, “The World Book
Margarita Engle, “Tula [“Books are door-shaped”]”
 
Celebrating Individual Books and Authors
Andrew Marvell, “On Mr. Milton’s ‘Paradise Lost’”
John Keats, “On First Looking into Chapman’s Homer
W. H. Auden, “Auden on Montaigne”
Ivor Gurney, “George Chapman – The Illiad”
R. S. Thomas, “Henry James”
Jorge Luis Borges, “On Acquiring an Encyclopedia”
Ezra Pound, “Cantico del Sole”
Andrew D. Scrimgeour, “Winter Pages”
Siegfried Sassoon, “To an Eighteenth Century Poet”
Joseph Brodsky, from “Elegy for John Donne”
Giovanni Boccaccio, “Boccaccio Sends Petrarch a Copy of Dante”
Anne Stevenson, “Re-reading Jane”
Wendy Cope, “My Father’s Shakespeare”
 
Because of Libraries
Alberto Rios, “Don’t Go into the Library”
J. K. Rowling, from Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
William E. Gladstone, “Books Are a Delightful Society”
Liz Lochhead, “Random”
Yuriy Andrukhovych, “Library”
Kostas Koutsourelis, “Library”
Laurynas Katkus, “On the Sixth Floor”
Jill Osier, “Elegy”
Robert L. Chapman, “Library”
Rosemary Griebel, “Library”
Naomi Shihab Nye, “Because of Libraries We Can Say These Things"
Alasdair Paterson, “On the Library”
William Cowper, from “An Ode Addressed”
Walt Whitman, “Shut Not Your Doors to Me Proud Libraries”
Frederick Buechner, “Holy a Place”
Gerald Stern, “Stepping Out of Poetry”
Lesbia Harford, “Closing Time: Public Library”
Abraham Cowley, “Mr. Cowley’s Book Presenting It Selfe”
Margaret Cavendish, “Fame’s Library within the Temple”
John Greenleaf Whittier, “The Library”
Gillian Clarke, “In a Cardiff Arcade”
U. A. Fanthorpe, “In the English Faculty Library, Oxford”
James Russell Lowell, “Literature for Desolate Islands”
Ian McMillan, “Adult Fiction”
 
Always the Librarians
Joseph Mills, “If Librarians Were Honest”
Andy Jackson, “Enquiry Desk”
Rita Dove, “Maple Valley Branch Library, 1967”
William Mcllvanney, “In the Library”
Nikki Giovanni, “A Poem for My Librarian, Mrs. Long”
Sean O’Brien, “The Beautiful Librarians”
John Holland, “On the Death of Esther Caterer”
Philip Metres, “Hearing of Alia Muhammed Baker’s Stroke”
 
The Writing of Books
Wislawa Szymborska, “The Joy of Writing”
Durs Grünbein, “On Learning Old Vocabulary”
Amit Majmudar, “Vocative”
Alicia Ostriker, from Ars Poetica
Gabriela Mistral, “The Teller of Tales”
Alexander Pope, “Sound and Sense”
Philippe Jaccottet, from “Songs from Below”
Ilya Kaminksky, “Author’s Prayer”
William Blake, from Songs of Innocence
Les Murray, “The Privacy of Typewriters”
Li Sen, “Confronting Nujiang”
William Stafford, “A Writer’s Fountain Pen Talking”
Odia Ofeimun, “I Am a Writer,”
Petrarch, from Canzoniere 1, “O You Who Hear”
Gaius Valerius Catullus, “To Whom Shall I Offer this Book?”
William Butler Yeats, “Where My Words Go”
Anne Bradstreet, “The Author to Her Book”
Marcus Valerius Martialis, “Epigrams 1,3, “My Little Book”
Horace, Ode 3.30, “More Lasting than Bronze”
Guido Cavalcanti, “Sonnet XVIII”
Uejima Onitsura, Untitled haiku
Johann W. Goethe, “Authors”
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, “The Poet and His Songs”
Callimachus, “The Very First Time”
 
Marginalia
John F. M. Doraston, “The Bookworm”
Robert Burns, “The Book-Worms”
Evenus, “Page-eater”
Elizabeth Barrett Browning, from Aurora Leigh
Ben Jonson, “To My Book-seller”
Thomas Hornsby Ferril, “Bookmarks”
Tarannum Riyaz, “The Scent of Old Books”
Robert Herrick, “Make Haste Away”
Udava R. Tennakoon, “Books Up on Books”
Decimus Ausonius, “You’ve Bought Books”
Eugene Field, “The Bibliomaniac’s Prayer”
Andrew Lang, “Ballade of the Book-man’s Paradise”
Adilia Lopes, “I Don’t Like Books”
Lope de Vega, “So Many Books”
Ecclesiastes 12:11-12, “The Sayings of the Wise”
Philip Larkin, “A Study of Reading Habits”
 
Rethinking Books and Libraries
Frank Osen, “Bookshop Shopping”
Douglas Dunn, “December’s Door”
Joe Lucia, “The Afterlife of Libraries”
Bertolt Brecht, “The Book Burnings”
Michael Symmons Roberts, “The Future of Books”
Elaine Equi, “The Libraries Didn’t Burn”
 
Index of Authors
FOREWORD

Ever since Johannes Gutenberg transformed the printing of books, making them available to a wider public, books have captured the imaginations of readers everywhere, inspiring love, and even veneration. Indeed, books may be unrivaled in evoking such bonedeep affection. William Wordsworth said that these page-packed parcels have wings to take us ‘as far as we can go’, to ‘wilderness and wood, / Blank ocean and mere sky’. For Alberto Ríos, they are ‘the deli offerings of civilization itself ’. When you enter a room full of books, even if you don’t take one off the shelf, William Gladstone observed, ‘they seem to speak to you, to welcome you’.
 
They also ask to be handled. As Rosemary Griebel put it, books wait ‘like abandoned dogs / for the warmth of hands on their spines’. Books are meant to be caressed, page by page, with a gentle downward motion, sometimes with a touch of moisture from the forefinger, as the reader leans attentively over them.
 
Books awaken all the senses, and many people name the sweet, musty autumn scent in libraries and used bookstores as among their favorites, along with freshly cut grass and bread baking in the oven. Robert Chapman evokes that olfactory delight: ‘Amidst the sweets and / Dust of the stacks / I edge from book to book like a grimy kid, / Flattening his nose against an infi nitude / Of candy store and bake shop fronts.’
 
So we line our walls with them, spend the milk money on them, read them aloud, converse with them, argue with them, annotate them, learn from them, raid them, edit them, translate them, write more of them, and fail to winnow them – reaping the displeasure of our spouses and partners who threaten to turn us out of our book-crammed homes.
 
Our adulation of books naturally extends to the consummate book place – the library. We remember and honor the awe-inspiring reading rooms with their stained glass, inexhaustible holdings, and sequestered places in the stacks where, with Billy Collins, one might hear ‘a choir of authors murmuring inside their books / along the unlit, alphabetical shelves’.
 
Over the years as a dean of libraries, I loved being alone in the library at night after hours, especially in winter as snow fell. The library in its warm calm had the feel of a snug subterranean greenhouse – a place where texts slumbered like seeds in their stiff jackets, awaiting human hands to crack open their husks and bring to flower the tales of novelists, the arguments of philosophers, and the diggings of historians.
 
Not only are libraries the memory banks of civilization, they are symbolic sanctuaries of the freedom of a people to speak its mind. In the stacks a cacophony of voices is heard on every side of an issue, voices from the past and the present, from the center of the dominant culture and from the margins. The iconic figures of the past are routinely studied, interrogated, decried, demoted deconstructed, and revered – but never silenced or discarded. Minor ones and neglected ones are constantly discovered and rediscovered and promoted to principal interlocutors in scholarly discourse. Even the most hostile voices are accorded the same protected space. ‘If librarians were honest,’ writes Joseph Mills, ‘They would post danger / signs warning that contact / might result in mood swings, / severe changes in vision, / and mind-altering effects’.
 
Joining the tributes to libraries are those that honor librarians – the ones who welcomed the poets in their formative years into the world of books; who, as Nikki Giovanni says, first ‘opened that wardrobe / But no lions or witches scared me’; dependable guides who over the years encouraged them to go deeper into the stacks and take an armload of adventure home, when it might be enjoyed deep into the night under the covers with a flashlight.
 
The poets gathered here range from the author of Ecclesiastes in the third century BCE to canonical writers of British, American, and Spanish literature such as William Shakespeare, Emily Dickinson, and Pablo Neruda. Strongly represented are contemporary poets writing in countries across many time zones. Some are well known  throughout the world, others enjoy regional status, and a few are published here for the first time. The love of books and libraries knows no linguistic boundaries, so a third of these poems have been rendered in translation. Interestingly, a number of the poets included have themselves been librarians, J. W. von Goethe, Coventry Patmore, Jorge Luis Borges, Philip Larkin and Rosemary Griebel amongst them.
 
I should like to dedicate this volume to Katherine W. McCain, Virginia Ramsey Mollenkott, Kent Harold Richards, Howard D. White and Louis Charles Willard, for debts untold.
 
Finally, as you embark on an excursion through these pages, a toast:
 
May the bookshelves on your walls be full
May the book stacks on your desk
and by your chair or bed be high
And may the doors of your library
remain open – always.
 
Godspeed
Andrew D. Scrimgeour

About

Here is an enchanting book about books: a beautiful hardcover Pocket Poets anthology that testifies to the passion books and libraries have inspired through the ages and around the world.

Books have long captured the love, imagination, even the veneration, of readers everywhere. Emily Dickinson envisions these precious objects as “Frigates” that “take us Lands away”; Alberto Rios calls them “the deli offerings of civilization itself.” This affection extends to the hallowed gathering places of the written word: the libraries and bookshops where one can best hear “a choir of authors murmuring inside their books,” as Billy Collins has it. 

The poets collected here range from the writer of Ecclesiastes in the third century BCE through such pillars of world literature as Catullus, Horace, T’ao Ch’ien, Dante, Petrarch, Boccaccio, Pierre de Ronsard, Lope de Vega, Shakespeare, Goethe, and Wordsworth; more recent luminaries include Jorge Luis Borges, C. P. Cavafy, Gabriela Mistral, Wallace Stevens, Iku Takenaka, Pablo Neruda, Wislawa Szymborska, Maya Angelou, and Derek Walcott.

Author

ANDREW SCRIMGEOUR is Dean of Libraries Emeritus, Drew University, Madison, New Jersey. He is Archivist Emeritus of the Society of Biblical Literature and the founding archivist of the American Academy of Religion. His essays and short stories have been published in The New York Times. View titles by Andrew Scrimgeour

Table of Contents

The Love of Books
Wallace Stevens, “The House Was Quiet and The World Was Calm”
Dylan Thomas, from “Notes on the Art of Poetry”
Theodore Beza, “Hayle to My Bookes”
Robert William Service, “Book Lover”
William Wordsworth, “Wings Have We”
Emily Dickinson, “There is No Frigate Like a Book”
William Shakespeare, “Sonnet XXIII”
George Crabbe, from “The Library”
Tsitsi Jaji, “Unaccompanied Minor”
Maya Angelou, “I Love the Look of Words”
Latin Proverb, “Words Fly Away”
Tessa Ransford, “In Convents and Crypts”
Henry Vaughan, “To His Books”
John Donne, “A Valediction of the Book”
Pablo Neruda, “Ode to the Book, II)”
Lynn Powell, “Sword Drill”
Tony Harrison, “Book Ends”
 
All Sorts of Readers
Samuel Taylor Coleridge, “There Are Only Four Kinds of Readers”
Louis MacNeice, “The British Museum Reading Room”
Stephen Kuusisto, “Night Seasons”
Coventry Patmore “The Revelation”
Hilaire René Belloc, “On His Books”
Anonymous, “A Description of a College Room”
Pierre de Ronsard, “To His Valet”
T’ao Ch’ien, “Reading the Book of Hills and Seas”
Muddupalani, “How to Read a Book”
Paul Valéry, “The Angel Handed Me a Book”
Czeslaw Milosz, “Father in the Library”
 
Turning the Page
Billy Collins, “Books”
David S. Herrstrom, “Sacred Books”
Stephen Dunn, “The Book and I”
Charles Bukowski, “They Arrived in Time”
Dante, from Inferno
Gjertrud Schnackenberg, “Supernatural Love”
John Burnside, “September Evening: Deer at Big Basin”
Yi Sha, “Sunday”
Flavio Santi, “Dear Mary”
Juan Manuel Roca, “The Library of the Blind”
Mona Van Duyn, “In Bed with a Book”
Iku Takenaka, “My Books
Mel Pryor, “In a Secondhand Bookshop”
Agi Mishol, “Poetry Reading”
C.P. Cavafy, “Very Rarely”
Derek Walcott, “This Page is a Cloud”
Jean Sprackland, “The Girl Who Ate Books”
John Glenday, “For My Wife, Reading in Bed”
 
Discovering Reading
Joyce Sutphen, “Things You Didn’t Put on Your Résumé”
Julia Alvarez, “Waiting for My Father to Pick Me Up at the Library
Laurie L. Patton, “On Learning a Sacred Language in Childhood”
Lewis Carroll, “What is the Use of a Book?”
Patricia Hooper, “The World Book
Margarita Engle, “Tula [“Books are door-shaped”]”
 
Celebrating Individual Books and Authors
Andrew Marvell, “On Mr. Milton’s ‘Paradise Lost’”
John Keats, “On First Looking into Chapman’s Homer
W. H. Auden, “Auden on Montaigne”
Ivor Gurney, “George Chapman – The Illiad”
R. S. Thomas, “Henry James”
Jorge Luis Borges, “On Acquiring an Encyclopedia”
Ezra Pound, “Cantico del Sole”
Andrew D. Scrimgeour, “Winter Pages”
Siegfried Sassoon, “To an Eighteenth Century Poet”
Joseph Brodsky, from “Elegy for John Donne”
Giovanni Boccaccio, “Boccaccio Sends Petrarch a Copy of Dante”
Anne Stevenson, “Re-reading Jane”
Wendy Cope, “My Father’s Shakespeare”
 
Because of Libraries
Alberto Rios, “Don’t Go into the Library”
J. K. Rowling, from Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
William E. Gladstone, “Books Are a Delightful Society”
Liz Lochhead, “Random”
Yuriy Andrukhovych, “Library”
Kostas Koutsourelis, “Library”
Laurynas Katkus, “On the Sixth Floor”
Jill Osier, “Elegy”
Robert L. Chapman, “Library”
Rosemary Griebel, “Library”
Naomi Shihab Nye, “Because of Libraries We Can Say These Things"
Alasdair Paterson, “On the Library”
William Cowper, from “An Ode Addressed”
Walt Whitman, “Shut Not Your Doors to Me Proud Libraries”
Frederick Buechner, “Holy a Place”
Gerald Stern, “Stepping Out of Poetry”
Lesbia Harford, “Closing Time: Public Library”
Abraham Cowley, “Mr. Cowley’s Book Presenting It Selfe”
Margaret Cavendish, “Fame’s Library within the Temple”
John Greenleaf Whittier, “The Library”
Gillian Clarke, “In a Cardiff Arcade”
U. A. Fanthorpe, “In the English Faculty Library, Oxford”
James Russell Lowell, “Literature for Desolate Islands”
Ian McMillan, “Adult Fiction”
 
Always the Librarians
Joseph Mills, “If Librarians Were Honest”
Andy Jackson, “Enquiry Desk”
Rita Dove, “Maple Valley Branch Library, 1967”
William Mcllvanney, “In the Library”
Nikki Giovanni, “A Poem for My Librarian, Mrs. Long”
Sean O’Brien, “The Beautiful Librarians”
John Holland, “On the Death of Esther Caterer”
Philip Metres, “Hearing of Alia Muhammed Baker’s Stroke”
 
The Writing of Books
Wislawa Szymborska, “The Joy of Writing”
Durs Grünbein, “On Learning Old Vocabulary”
Amit Majmudar, “Vocative”
Alicia Ostriker, from Ars Poetica
Gabriela Mistral, “The Teller of Tales”
Alexander Pope, “Sound and Sense”
Philippe Jaccottet, from “Songs from Below”
Ilya Kaminksky, “Author’s Prayer”
William Blake, from Songs of Innocence
Les Murray, “The Privacy of Typewriters”
Li Sen, “Confronting Nujiang”
William Stafford, “A Writer’s Fountain Pen Talking”
Odia Ofeimun, “I Am a Writer,”
Petrarch, from Canzoniere 1, “O You Who Hear”
Gaius Valerius Catullus, “To Whom Shall I Offer this Book?”
William Butler Yeats, “Where My Words Go”
Anne Bradstreet, “The Author to Her Book”
Marcus Valerius Martialis, “Epigrams 1,3, “My Little Book”
Horace, Ode 3.30, “More Lasting than Bronze”
Guido Cavalcanti, “Sonnet XVIII”
Uejima Onitsura, Untitled haiku
Johann W. Goethe, “Authors”
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, “The Poet and His Songs”
Callimachus, “The Very First Time”
 
Marginalia
John F. M. Doraston, “The Bookworm”
Robert Burns, “The Book-Worms”
Evenus, “Page-eater”
Elizabeth Barrett Browning, from Aurora Leigh
Ben Jonson, “To My Book-seller”
Thomas Hornsby Ferril, “Bookmarks”
Tarannum Riyaz, “The Scent of Old Books”
Robert Herrick, “Make Haste Away”
Udava R. Tennakoon, “Books Up on Books”
Decimus Ausonius, “You’ve Bought Books”
Eugene Field, “The Bibliomaniac’s Prayer”
Andrew Lang, “Ballade of the Book-man’s Paradise”
Adilia Lopes, “I Don’t Like Books”
Lope de Vega, “So Many Books”
Ecclesiastes 12:11-12, “The Sayings of the Wise”
Philip Larkin, “A Study of Reading Habits”
 
Rethinking Books and Libraries
Frank Osen, “Bookshop Shopping”
Douglas Dunn, “December’s Door”
Joe Lucia, “The Afterlife of Libraries”
Bertolt Brecht, “The Book Burnings”
Michael Symmons Roberts, “The Future of Books”
Elaine Equi, “The Libraries Didn’t Burn”
 
Index of Authors

Excerpt

FOREWORD

Ever since Johannes Gutenberg transformed the printing of books, making them available to a wider public, books have captured the imaginations of readers everywhere, inspiring love, and even veneration. Indeed, books may be unrivaled in evoking such bonedeep affection. William Wordsworth said that these page-packed parcels have wings to take us ‘as far as we can go’, to ‘wilderness and wood, / Blank ocean and mere sky’. For Alberto Ríos, they are ‘the deli offerings of civilization itself ’. When you enter a room full of books, even if you don’t take one off the shelf, William Gladstone observed, ‘they seem to speak to you, to welcome you’.
 
They also ask to be handled. As Rosemary Griebel put it, books wait ‘like abandoned dogs / for the warmth of hands on their spines’. Books are meant to be caressed, page by page, with a gentle downward motion, sometimes with a touch of moisture from the forefinger, as the reader leans attentively over them.
 
Books awaken all the senses, and many people name the sweet, musty autumn scent in libraries and used bookstores as among their favorites, along with freshly cut grass and bread baking in the oven. Robert Chapman evokes that olfactory delight: ‘Amidst the sweets and / Dust of the stacks / I edge from book to book like a grimy kid, / Flattening his nose against an infi nitude / Of candy store and bake shop fronts.’
 
So we line our walls with them, spend the milk money on them, read them aloud, converse with them, argue with them, annotate them, learn from them, raid them, edit them, translate them, write more of them, and fail to winnow them – reaping the displeasure of our spouses and partners who threaten to turn us out of our book-crammed homes.
 
Our adulation of books naturally extends to the consummate book place – the library. We remember and honor the awe-inspiring reading rooms with their stained glass, inexhaustible holdings, and sequestered places in the stacks where, with Billy Collins, one might hear ‘a choir of authors murmuring inside their books / along the unlit, alphabetical shelves’.
 
Over the years as a dean of libraries, I loved being alone in the library at night after hours, especially in winter as snow fell. The library in its warm calm had the feel of a snug subterranean greenhouse – a place where texts slumbered like seeds in their stiff jackets, awaiting human hands to crack open their husks and bring to flower the tales of novelists, the arguments of philosophers, and the diggings of historians.
 
Not only are libraries the memory banks of civilization, they are symbolic sanctuaries of the freedom of a people to speak its mind. In the stacks a cacophony of voices is heard on every side of an issue, voices from the past and the present, from the center of the dominant culture and from the margins. The iconic figures of the past are routinely studied, interrogated, decried, demoted deconstructed, and revered – but never silenced or discarded. Minor ones and neglected ones are constantly discovered and rediscovered and promoted to principal interlocutors in scholarly discourse. Even the most hostile voices are accorded the same protected space. ‘If librarians were honest,’ writes Joseph Mills, ‘They would post danger / signs warning that contact / might result in mood swings, / severe changes in vision, / and mind-altering effects’.
 
Joining the tributes to libraries are those that honor librarians – the ones who welcomed the poets in their formative years into the world of books; who, as Nikki Giovanni says, first ‘opened that wardrobe / But no lions or witches scared me’; dependable guides who over the years encouraged them to go deeper into the stacks and take an armload of adventure home, when it might be enjoyed deep into the night under the covers with a flashlight.
 
The poets gathered here range from the author of Ecclesiastes in the third century BCE to canonical writers of British, American, and Spanish literature such as William Shakespeare, Emily Dickinson, and Pablo Neruda. Strongly represented are contemporary poets writing in countries across many time zones. Some are well known  throughout the world, others enjoy regional status, and a few are published here for the first time. The love of books and libraries knows no linguistic boundaries, so a third of these poems have been rendered in translation. Interestingly, a number of the poets included have themselves been librarians, J. W. von Goethe, Coventry Patmore, Jorge Luis Borges, Philip Larkin and Rosemary Griebel amongst them.
 
I should like to dedicate this volume to Katherine W. McCain, Virginia Ramsey Mollenkott, Kent Harold Richards, Howard D. White and Louis Charles Willard, for debts untold.
 
Finally, as you embark on an excursion through these pages, a toast:
 
May the bookshelves on your walls be full
May the book stacks on your desk
and by your chair or bed be high
And may the doors of your library
remain open – always.
 
Godspeed
Andrew D. Scrimgeour

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