Sunday, June 19, 2011

of quaintest Floss

There were no libraries close to us in Arizona and for six months I borrowed nothing, but now we're within walking distance of the Clark County Library System, one outlet of, and they have books upon books, three copies of the Purgatorio, three Complete Shakespeares, two Anita Brookners that I hadn't read, two Hannah Arendts that I hadn't read, two translations of Murasaki Shikibu's Diary, ("As autumn advances, the Tsuchimikado mansion looks unutterably beautiful"), Helen Garner's First Stone, which was unexpected (and more than one Richard Flanagan, and strange, strange, finding those Australian names here, and what do they make of Robert Drewe's Shark Net I wonder, and then I wonder why I wonder), and the Complete Poems of Emily Dickinson, the poet slipping through telescopic hallucinations small and large with Alice in Wonderland quickness. The Sun is huge, the Daisy is small, she has them both, she puts them together with a dash for handcuffs. The Frost that possesses the World is a respectable and dark Sepulchre, but the Sepulchre is made of quaintest Floss, and the Abbey is a small Cocoon. The sea will overwhelm her as though she be Dew, but she will stare it down with the force of her small nouns. What does it conquer? An apron. A belt. Sea be not proud. It will fill her shoe with pearl. The world is animate and full of intentions. The Sun has a Whip to drive away the Fog, and the ship that walks on water must have feet. This is an uncracked logic.

Such will to power transmitted through so many tiny Bees.

That line of Murasaki was translated by Richard Bowring and published in the Penguin Classics version of the Diary. She goes on with this sentence: "Every branch on every tree by the lake and each tuft of grass on the banks of the stream takes on its own particular colour, which is then intensified by the evening light." Yes, answers Thoreau. "Was there ever such an autumn?" (The Journal, Oct 14, 1857) Both Murasaki and Thoreau were awkward around people, I notice, or both thought they were. Both of them wonder if they seem cold.

The Dickinson poems I've mentioned here are, He parts Himself—like Leaves—, I started Early – Took my Dog –, The Sun and Fog contested, and There is strength in proving that it can be borne.

Looking at it from the outside, the library branch near us falls somewhere between ZMKC's library in Budapest and her library in Canberra. Not so many knobs as the first one. Not so low as the second one. You enter it from the car park and not the street. If you walk into the building from the street entrance you come into a small round foyer with a flight of stairs at the back and signs saying Theatre.

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