Photo of Melville; Back Room, Old Bookstore

By Stephen Sandy b. 1934 Stephen Sandy
I passed him by at first. From the photograph
Peered sepia eyes, blindered, unappeased
From a lair of brows and beard: one not amazed
At anything, as if to have looked enough
Then turned aside worked best for him—as if
Night vision was the discipline that eased
The weight of what he saw. A man’s gaze posed
Too long in the sun goes blank; comes to grief.
That face could be a focus for this back room,
For pack-rat papers strewn as if in rage,
Fond notes unread: each wary eye a phial
Unstopped to let huge Melville out, to calm
The sea of pages; Melville in older age:
The grown man’s sleepy defiance of denial.

Stephen Sandy, “Photo of Melville; Back Room, Old Bookstore” from The Thread. Copyright © 1998 by Stephen Sandy. Reprinted by permission of Louisiana State University Press.

Source: The Thread (Louisiana State University Press, 1998)

Discover this poem’s context and related poetry, articles, and media.

Poet Stephen Sandy b. 1934

POET’S REGION U.S., New England

Subjects Arts & Sciences, Photography & Film, Poetry & Poets, Reading & Books

Poetic Terms Sonnet

 Stephen  Sandy

Biography

Stephen Sandy studied poetry with Robert Lowell and Archibald MacLeish, earned a PhD from Harvard University, and traveled to Japan on a Fulbright Visiting Lectureship. He is the author of more than a half dozen collections of poetry and has been honored with fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Vermont Council on the Arts, and the Ingram Merrill Foundation.

Stephen Sandy’s collections include Riding to . . .

Continue reading this biography

Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Arts & Sciences, Photography & Film, Poetry & Poets, Reading & Books

POET’S REGION U.S., New England

Poetic Terms Sonnet

Report a problem with this poem

Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

This poem has learning resources.

This poem is good for children.

This poem has related video.

This poem has related audio.