In the Reading Room

By David Ferry b. 1924 David Ferry
Alone in the library room, even when others
Are there in the room, alone, except for themselves:
There is the illusion of peace; the air in the room

Is stilled; there are reading lights on the tables,
Looking as if they're reading, looking as if
They're studying the text, and understanding,

Shedding light on what the words are saying;
But under their steady imbecile gaze the page
Is blank, patiently waiting not to be blank.

The page is blank until the mind that reads
Crosses the black river, seeking the Queen
Of the Underworld, Persephone, where she sits

By the side of the one who brought her there from Enna,
Hades the mute, the deaf, king of the dead letter;
She is clothed in the beautiful garment of our thousand

Misunderstandings of the sacred text.

David Ferry, "In the Reading Room" from The New Yorker. Copyright © September 15, 2003 by David Ferry.  Reprinted by permission of the author.

Source: The New Yorker (Conde Nast, 2003-09-15)

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Poet David Ferry b. 1924

Subjects Living, The Mind, Activities, Indoor Activities, Arts & Sciences, Reading & Books, Mythology & Folklore, Greek & Roman Mythology

 David  Ferry

Biography

David Ferry is an acclaimed American poet and translator. Ferry’s translations, which include some of the world's major works of poetry including The Odes of Horace, and both The Eclogues and Georgics of Virgil, are known for their fluency and grace. In addition to his lauded translations, Ferry is also a prize-winning poet in his own right. His poetic works include Dwelling Places (1993) and Of No Country I Know: New and . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Living, The Mind, Activities, Indoor Activities, Arts & Sciences, Reading & Books, Mythology & Folklore, Greek & Roman Mythology

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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