And Yet the Books

And yet the books will be there on the shelves, separate beings,
That appeared once, still wet
As shining chestnuts under a tree in autumn,
And, touched, coddled, began to live
In spite of fires on the horizon, castles blown up,
Tribes on the march, planets in motion.
“We are, ” they said, even as their pages
Were being torn out, or a buzzing flame
Licked away their letters. So much more durable
Than we are, whose frail warmth
Cools down with memory, disperses, perishes.
I imagine the earth when I am no more:
Nothing happens, no loss, it’s still a strange pageant,
Women’s dresses, dewy lilacs, a song in the valley.
Yet the books will be there on the shelves, well born,
Derived from people, but also from radiance, heights.

–Czeslaw Milosz
Translated by Robert Hass

Mary Karr does a fabulous serialized gig, available on You Tube, that she calls Poetry Fix. You can watch the one where she reads this poem, episode 17, along with all the others in the series. I’ve been a big fan of Karr’s for a long time so this is just more of her good stuff delivered quickly, deftly and with that LOL Karr sense of humor.

I don’t want to forget to mention that the poem is fabulous. Right up my book-loving alley.