The Little Review (littlereview) wrote,
The Little Review

Poem for Thursday

A Valediction: Forbidding Mourning
By David Lehman

You who are the reader
had an identity crisis, went to college,
went on strike,
but fell out with the movement
when someone started a fire in the library.
You were reading Rousseau at the time.

Hiking in the woods was your pastime.
You sat on a rock and wrote pages no reader
would see. Leaves were your library.
A congress of birds was your college.
They consoled you, told you to strike
up the band when down, play the scherzo movement

of a romantic symphony, and observe the movement
of water in the stream marking time.
You smoked unfiltered Lucky Strikes.
You defined a writer as a reader
who skipped classes in college,
spent night in bars and days in the library.

One section of your ideal library
has books with blank pages. No movement
of men and arms can stand up to a college
of ideas: you believed that at the time.
You believed in the inalienable rights of the reader,
who could bring down poetry by going on strike.

Like a patient batter taking a first-pitch strike,
the professors assembled on the steps of Low Library,
and talked. Students perused The Rousseau Reader.
Some joined an underground movement
of philosophers committed to a new refutation of time.
The course you most wanted to take in college,

"Romanticism From Rousseau to Hitler," an old college
standby, gave way to a course on great strikes
in union history. Like a referee calling time,
the head librarian asked all to observe library
decorum and said that for the sestina movement
to get off the ground, we needed new readers.

Gather round, ye readers, nostalgic for college,
and the concept of timeless truths beyond movements
of protestors striking poses in the photogenic library.


I first studied the poem from which the title of this one is taken in the freshman survey of English literature course that influenced so many aspects of my life. So reading this cynical take just makes me smile and shake my head.

Spent most of the morning doing chores and watching gratuitous Klingon episodes so I could write a review of Star Trek Fan Collective - Klingon, which was really more fun than it should have been...the collection has several shortcomings, but I bet no matter which ten episodes got picked for a Klingon set, a lot of people would be unhappy with what wasn't included. I really think they should do a set entirely about Worf's family -- the Kurn storyline, the K'Ehleyr-Alexander storyline and the Jadzia storyline, most of which got left out of this one. And without "Day of the Dove" and most of the Martok episodes, they could do another entire Klingon set.

Then I had lunch with my very oldest friend, the one I've known since first grade who always throws the Superbowl parties; she and her daughter and I went out for Indian food at a restaurant whose air conditioning was on the fritz, so it's a good thing the food was excellent and they gave out free mango lassi! We mostly talked family and Bar Mitzvah stuff and I stopped by her house to admire her garden and her two Boston terriers, who licked me so much that when I got home my cat licked me too, I think just to reclaim me! I got so distracted that I forgot son's Hebrew notebook when I went to pick him up for camp and had to go tearing home to get it, thus making us late to meet with the rabbi but he was in the main office to conserve energy with the A/C off upstairs and was unconcerned since son pretty much knows his Torah and Haftarah portions and just needs to write his speech!

I ended up eating out both meals, though I didn't have very much for dinner, because California Tortilla was giving out free cupcakes for its birthday and the kids remembered and apaulled figured that would save us using the stove and running up the air conditioning bill...hey, any excuse. *g* Before we went home we stopped in Blockbuster to see if they had Polanski's Macbeth because a couple of people warned me against showing the McKellen-Dench version to my kids, as it's rather spare and at times dry...I am sorry to say I don't remember it well enough to know, but I remembered Polanski's enough to know that it is anything but dry! (We are taking the kids to Macbeth onstage this weekend and though they know the story, I wanted to make sure they were familiar with the language.) They really liked it...I was afraid it would be too gory, but in this post-LOTR age, it seems tamer than I remembered, and quite well done.

A water monitor in the Australia exhibit.

An Australian lizard whose species I don't recall.

An iguana hiding in a corner of the rainforest exhibit.

And a big green frog, another whose species I unfortunately do not recall, but isn't it cool!

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