Writing on the Walls, Pages

Last year — Or what is this year? — a former college roommate of mine posted a picture of his reading a Louise Gluck poem. It’s a powerful poem in my opinion, and it resonated enough and wedge itself in between my mind and skull to look for the book when in a used bookstore. There was much resistance for a while, actually looking for the book, because …

Well, let’s be honest. Can someone really have too many books?

from Gluck’s The First Four Books of Poems

It will be said again: I love this poem. How it’s read and the aesthetic impact of this poem leaves a bad taste in my mouth. It’s confident. It resonates. And inside my mouth develops an odd taste that needs to be washed out with Listerine or some other alcohol-based mouthwash. It builds slowly and steadily, and the last line — “Love, you ever want me, don’t.” — is essentially the last straw with this torrid love. It’s a wonderful culmination and conclusion; so much is said with so little.

Well, as past practices have proven themselves pertinent, time is taken when reading poetry books. As personal opinion, you can’t read poetry like prose. Some people may disagree. The words and thoughts that make up a poem are often higher caliber, and to really understand — sometimes we may not fully understand, but it does not hurt to try — the meaning behind each piece, a poem has to wordsthoroughly be read and picked apart. But there really isn’t anything wrong with a person’s opinion, deeming poetry good or bad. An elaboration is always appreciated.

The receipt from the book was used as a bookmark; they usually are — recycled for purpose. But then an index card was found snug in between a couple pages and wedged into the backbone. It’s exciting to come across notes

The one of beauties of used books is finding markings, underlined passages, highlighting, and notations in the margins from a previous reader or maybe two or maybe three. The markings may come in the form of statements, questions, assumptions. Passages will be highlighted or starred or have a bracket in the form of one of those old ice carriers, signaling that this part, right here, is too cool to touch.

It interesting to see how others respond, and you get a look into their minds. You see what excites or depresses or stresses them. You wonder. You question whether this was supposed to be read by your eyes or not, if your brain was to cuddle these thoughts. And then you find lines if poetry on a card, lines from poets other than Louise Gluck. Regardless, inspiration is inspiration, and inspiration is beautiful, and beautiful is captivating.

The fact that these messages fell into your possession can be read into, perhaps. That’s up to the person, however. Not too many people write lines out. If quotes are captured, they’re either written to a Facebook wall or tweeted, but only to be lost in the ether of the Internet. With this, you may never know whose handwriting this or how many degrees of separation there are.

Of course, an attempt on my part was made to figure out where these lines came from. There hasn’t been a successful finding with the first passage. The second, however, is a poem by Stanly Kunitz; and it is called “First Love.” Click the link for a read. I enjoy the poem; it’s very fun and airy, whimsical even.

Being an often over analytic person when it comes to finding messages and banking on instances being more than coincidences, it’ll be interesting to see how this card plays out. What exactly is the Why? The card is going to stay in the book should I choose to leave it somewhere, because some aspects should not be tampered with.

Have you received any intriguing messages lately? What is a favorite that you’ve come across in the past?

4 thoughts on “Writing on the Walls, Pages

  1. You can never have too many books! Especially old books. They have that delicious smell to them. I love when someone notates a book and I buy it. I prefer it. An inscription. A comment. An underline here and there of something that resonates with them. It IS like being in their mind for a moment. And also when I find little treasures like you did here. A photo. A scrap of paper. I feel like an archaeologist uncovering a hidden world.

  2. I simply love this post. I can relate to every instance you describe about discoveries in used books. I’ve always found them precious, and I too would never tamper with how they were meant to be. And this poem, I hadn’t known it. So glad to know it now. I need to re-read it several times, because like you say, to even come close to getting a poem beyond the initial surface meaning, you have to completely pick it apart.

    1. Thank you! I appreciate it.

      Gluck is amazing. And if you’d like to have a book of poetry, I’d be glad to mail it in your direction. I promise I won’t scribble in it too much. A simple gesture, gift from one writer and creative mind to another.


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