and THIS is how poetry is done: “In the Reading Room” by David Ferry

In the Reading Room
David Ferry

Alone in the library room, even when others
Are there in the room, alone, except for themselves,
There is the illusion of peace; the air in the room

Is stilled; there are reading lights on the tables,
Looking as if they’re reading, looking as if
They’re studying the text, and understanding,

Shedding light on what the words are saying;
But under their steady imbecile gaze the page
Is blank, patiently waiting not to be blank.

The page is blank until the mind that reads
Crosses the black river, seeking the Queen
Of the Underworld, Persephone, where she sits

By the side of the one who brought her there from Enna,
Hades, the mute, the deaf, king of the dead letter;
She is clothed in the beautiful garment of our thousand

Misunderstandings of the sacred text.

from Bewilderment: New Poems and Translations, University of Chicago Press

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