In the Peabody Library reading room, a ramshackle longing has liberty to roam,
While the rhetoric of busybodied reality bustles without and within
The center of self-knowing. Beneath the architraves scrolled with Grecian ghosts,
And over the bookcases crimped dense with Virgil’s deeds,
Twenty centuries of ‘I Am’s impartially abided to this place divorced of time.
Beside the domesticity of books, the graduate students sit, talking contentedly
Of matters related to weather, and ‘she loves you not’s’ of restrained importance,
And have exiled vellum-spined Kipling, Coleridge, Cranes’ consciousnesses
From their all-important talk, then to someplace as unreached
Within these twenty centuries and five floors of domesticity,
Below whose atrium the unconsoled words of creation
Retire into their dreadful humanity, read through perhaps and put away –
I search in heed for the truest ‘kings of infinite space.’

Wandering the columns of the Peabody,
Bordering a prodigiously fat shelf set aside for the modernist thing,
Certain truths seem forgivable to readers of certain breeds.
To chance upon a no more commonplace volume of Auden –
I turn to his ‘September 3, 1939’ two days, eighty years after the occasion
And chance upon some lady’s no more commonplace tow-color of hair,
Doubtless, having been collected by some stranger into a blonde plait,
A stranger whose limerence had left it truer bookmarked beside the verse –
‘For the error bred in the bone
Of each woman and each man
Craves what it cannot have,
Not universal love
But to be loved alone.’


A young poet whose work can be best described as “allowing the glory of the mundane to permeate our understanding.”


Maxwell Tang

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