Poetry Friday: Lost in Books

Poetry Friday is hosted by Margaret Simon at Reflections on the Teche

Right now, the house is quiet. Daylight goes on and on. The pressures of day-to-day teaching are still a few weeks away, so I feel justified in devouring books, beginning to end in one sitting.

Yesterday, I finished Nine, Ten: A September 11 Story  by Nora Raleigh Baskin and got two-thirds through Towers Falling  by Jewell Parker Rhodes. What an emotional duo. I’m feeling lost in that time.

For Poetry Friday, I offer two poems that celebrate my summer reading life. The first from Donald Graves’ book  Baseball, Snakes, and Summer Squash. I wonder, how many of my students are having this experience. The second poem from Wallace Stevens speaks to my more adult self, calming and justifying my reader’s heart.

Lost in a Book

by Donald Graves

We get up from the table
after a full lunch.
Dad says,
“Got a book here
you can have.
‘Bout a kid lost on a mountain in Maine.
True story.
Author signed it.”

I reach for the book,
picture of a boy
on the cover
lying in a sack
thin and pale.

I opened to the first page
and read standing;
Dad has disappeared,
leaving myself, the boy,
and the book.

I finally sit down,
and travel with the boy
up Mr. Katahdin, lost
in the clouds,
and I am the boy,
terrified, cold from the clouds,
bitten by blackflies,
mosquitos, following a brook, while I
eat blueberries.

I turn on
the living room lamp;
a bear moves from cover
and the boy watches
from the other
side of a blueberry bush.

“Time to set the table
for supper, Donald.”
I hear the voice
but the boy trudges on and
loses his sneakers
in the rocky stream.
I want the voice
to tire, to go away.
The boy falls
in a heap
across the stream
from a cabin
where a man spots him.

“Will you put
that book away?

The House Was Quiet and The World Was Calm

by Wallace Stevens

 The house was quiet and the world was calm.
The reader became the book; and summer night
Was like the conscious being of the book.
The house was quiet and the world was calm.
The words were spoken as if there was no book,
Except that the reader leaned above the page,
Wanted to lean, wanted much most to be
The scholar to whom his book is true, to whom
The summer night is like a perfection of thought.
The house was quiet because it had to be.
The quiet was part of the meaning, part of the mind:
The access of perfection to the page.
And the world was calm. The truth in a calm world,
In which there is no other meaning, itself
Is calm, itself is summer and night, itself
Is the reader leaning late and reading there.

14 thoughts on “Poetry Friday: Lost in Books

  1. Donald Graves captured the way a book draws you in and won’t let go. I appreciate your reading life and thank you for sharing it with me.

  2. Two amazing poems. The one by Donald Graves is precious; I’m sure kids will love it. The other, by Wallace Stevens, is more of a surprise. Different from what little I know of his work. So thank you for extending my experience of his writing. It, too, is a poem that really pulls in the reader. And I do almost all my reading exclusively at night, in that same calm place, for that same reason.

  3. I know that book Graves wrote about, would always hope that our students do lose themselves, just as the poem shares, “I want the voice to tire, to go away”. A voice often calls us away doesn’t it? The Wallace Stevens poem is lovely, what we wish for our summer nights, “that perfection of thought”. I enjoyed these so much, Julieanne.

  4. I can identify with “Lost in a Book”. How many times as a child when I was “lost in a book” was I interrupted to do one chore or another!

  5. I am reading a lot as I recover from surgery, and I love it. Luckily, I got to cull favorite books from author’s lists and request them from the library. Isn’t hard to know where to start, they all look so good.

  6. Life as a reader is calling us through books. In those spaces we move into another realm where reality is far away when we are inside the pages. The two poems compliment each other and the experience of drifting into the world of the reader.

  7. Ach! This mother – who was once that child – knows, both in that Donald Graves poem. As my then-young-son once wrote; You can go anywhere – with a book.
    The places those pages take you. But also the places you take those pages!

  8. Ahh…thank you for these two poems (and your story) in tribute of summer reading. Bridget Magee had a wonderful poem in honor of bedtime read aloud. And what are my next two books on the TBR stack? Nine, Ten and Towers Falling! I read Ms. Bixby’s Last Day and DIY Literacy each in a single day-long gulp. Ah…summer reading!

  9. I remember being “lost in a book”. It is fun to go back and relive that feeling. Though I can get caught up in a book now, it just isn’t the same as when I was a kid. Thanks for sharing that!

  10. Oh how this post makes me miss a longer summer and more time to sit and read!

    I’m back to stealing time for a little reading. Seems, as educators we should have time to read incorporated into each and very day. And I mean reading the rich kind of narrative that draws you in and holds you as the readers are held in both of these beautiful poems, rather than the “another email, article, bulletin I must read ” kind of reading.
    Relish your last days of rich transportive reading!

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