“Four Quartets” Revisited

By Belle Randall b. 1940 Belle Randall
On opening a long unopened book,
what odor rises from the parting pages,
what genie is released, what dark spell broken,
as if some spirit trapped inside for ages,

By this hinge swung open were set free?
My father’s hand has jotted in the margins
its own blunt text of what must be
lecture notes, and planted his place marker

Like a flag among “The Dry Salvages”—
a UC “schedule card,” a blank
grid for weekly classes, and on the back,
O fees and late fees time alone assuages—

We know the longhand’s labored look
was mine, but why that child should scrawl
a phrase so apt for now’s beyond recall:
on opening a long unopened book.

Source: Poetry (September 2009).


This poem originally appeared in the September 2009 issue of Poetry magazine

September 2009
 Belle  Randall


Born in Ellensburg, Washington, poet Belle Randall earned a BA at the University of California Berkeley, an MA at Stanford University, and a second MA at the University of Washington. Her precise use of form and meter often shapes portraits of both observed life and interior states. She is the author of the poetry collections 101 Different Ways of Playing Solitaire and Other Poems (1973) and The Coast Starlight (2010). She . . .

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Poems by Belle Randall

Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Living, Midlife, Time & Brevity, Arts & Sciences, Reading & Books

POET’S REGION U.S., Northwestern

Poetic Terms Rhymed Stanza

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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