Friday, April 9, 2010

Libraries and Poetry

It is no secret, my love of books.  I hope also it is no secret I hold an equally deep love for libraries, especially public ones.  The first tax-supported public library opened on this day in 1833, in Peterborough, N.H., and it stands today with more than 9,000 other public libraries that feed our need for information and resources.  
You may not be able to get a subscription to the Post or pay for Internet connection, but you know you can get that at the library — as well as books in many languages, DVDs, recorded books and reference material and magazines from all over the world.
We talk about all of the things we can live without in economic hard times.  Some jurisdictions seem to think libraries are one of those things that can come and go when "times get tough."  You and I know better.  Call your mayor, call your chairman, call your parish president or county leader and make sure they know that, too.
 While we're at it, let's have a shout-out to all of the librarians out there who know where, when and how to find out anything we need to know (whether we knew it or not).  Between them and the Dewey Decimal System, we're saved!

 

HEAR IT AGAIN








'For out of olde feldes, as men seyth, Cometh al this newe corne yer by yere, And out of olde bokes, in good feyth, Cometh al this newe science that men lere.'

Chaucer: The Parlement of Foules
Fourteen centuries have learned, From charred remains, that what took place When Alexandria's library burned Brain-damaged the human race.

Whatever escaped Was hidden by bookish monks in their damp cells Hunted by Alfred dug for by Charlemagne Got through the Dark Ages little enough but enough For Dante and Chaucer sitting up all night

looking for light.
A Serbian Prof's insanity,
Commanding guns, to split the heart,
His and his people's, tore apart
The Sarajevo library.

Tyrants know where to aim As Hitler poured his petrol and tossed matches Stalin collected the bards... In other words the mobile and only libraries...

of all those enslaved peoples from the Black to the Bering Sea
And made a bonfire
Of the mainsprings of national identities to melt


the folk into one puddle
And the three seconds of the present moment
By massacring those wordy fellows whose memories were


bigger than armies.
Where any nation starts awake
Books are the memory. And it's plain
Decay of libraries is like
Alzheimer's in the nation's brain.

And in my own day in my own land I have heard the fiery whisper: 'We are here To destroy the Book To destroy the rooted stock of the Book and The Book's perennial vintage, destroy it Not with a hammer or a sickle And not exactly according to Mao who also Drained the skull of adult and adolescent To build a shining new society With the empties...'
For this one's dreams and that one's acts
For all who've failed or aged beyond
The reach of teachers, here are found
The inspiration and the facts.

As we all know and have heard all our lives Just as we've heard that here.
Even the most misfitting child
Who's chanced upon the library's worth,
Sits with the genius of the Earth
And turns the key to the whole world.

Hear it again.

by Ted Hughes
courtesy New Library: The People's Network

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