August 28, 2006

My Marginalia

My undergraduate poetry books are full of notes. Many are like those in Collins poem - notes on figurative language for an assignment - but a few are more personal observations. I'm actually too much in love with books to feel comfortable marking them up mmost of the time. Paperbacks are easier to write in, but I can't recall marking up any hardcover books other than textbooks.

From my poetry shelf, I found some notes - some rather cryptic -

"avoid the cult of reason" written next to the Blake lines

To see the world in a grain of sand
and heaven in a wild flower,
hold infinity in the palm of your hand
and eternity in a hour.

has absolutely no meaning to me today. Possibly something said in a lecture...

I wrote "use it!" next to the lines

If I meet you suddenly, I can't speak-
my tongue is broken;
a thin flame runs under my skin;
seeing nothing, hearing only my ears drumming,
I drip with sweat;
trembling shakes my body and I turn paper than dry grass

from a fragment of a Sappho poem. Use it for what? My own poem? I suspect I may have wanted to use it to send to some girl in some love note/poem/pickup line.

I also recalled on the Poets Online site the time that I bought a used paperback many years ago of John Updike's short story collection Pigeon Feathers (a collection I highly recommend).

In it I found the original receipt for the book from a bookseller in the Newark Airport and the stub from a paycheck from a New York advertising agency. In my mind, there was the beginning of a story there - man leaves work on a Friday, cashes his check and heads for the airport intending to leave behind the city, his job, and - well, who knows. I never wrote the story. I did search that book for clues in the margins. Nothing.

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