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Image by Philip Simic

In the Library

In the Library

for Octavio

There's a book called
A Dictionary of Angels.
No one had opened it in fifty years,
I know, because when I did,
The covers creaked, the pages
Crumbled. There I discovered

The angels were once as plentiful
As species of flies.
The sky at dusk
Used to be thick with them.
You had to wave both arms
Just to keep them away.

Now the sun is shining
Through the tall windows.
The library is a quiet place.
Angels and gods huddled
In dark unopened books.
The great secret lies
On some shelf Miss Jones
Passes every day on her rounds.

She's very tall, so she keeps
Her head tipped as if listening.
The books are whispering.
I hear nothing, but she does.


From Selected Poems (Faber and Faber, 2004), copyright © Charles Simic 2004, used by permission of the author and the publisher.

Recordings

Charles Simic Reading from his poems

1Butcher Shop

2Cockroach

3Fork

4The Partial Explanation

5Prodigy

6Shelley

7Factory

8Folk Songs

9Country Fair

10The Clocks of the Dead

11Transport

12Reading History

13Cameo Appearance

14Ghosts

15At the Cookout

16Club Midnight

17Pastoral Harpsichord

18The Soul Has Many Brides

19Unmade Beds

20The One To Worry About

21Cherry Blossom Time

22The Altar

23My Father Attributed Immortality to Waiters

24Views from a Train

25Serving Time

26Cabbage

27Paradise

28In the Library

29The Tiger

30Evening Walk

31The Old World

32Empires

33The Tower

34Late Call

35Emily’s Theme

36The Friends of Heraclitus

Books by Charles Simic