Children Selecting Books In A Library by Randall Jarrell
With beasts and gods, above, the wall is bright. The child's head, bent to the book-colored shelves, Is slow and sidelong and food-gathering, Moving in blind grace ... yet from the mural, Care The grey-eyed one, fishing the morning mist, Seizes the baby hero by the hair And whispers, in the tongue of gods and children, Words of a doom as ecumenical as dawn But blanched like dawn, with dew. The children's cries Are to men the cries of crickets, dense with warmth -- But dip a finger into Fafnir, taste it, And all their words are plain as chance and pain. Their tales are full of sorcerers and ogres Because their lives are: the capricious infinite That, like parents, no one has yet escaped Except by luck or magic; and since strength And wit are useless, be kind or stupid, wait Some power's gratitude, the tide of things. Read meanwhile ... hunt among the shelves, as dogs do, grasses, And find one cure for Everychild's diseases Beginning: Once upon a time there was A wolf that fed, a mouse that warned, a bear that rode A boy. Us men, alas! wolves, mice, bears bore. And yet wolves, mice, bears, children, gods and men In slow preambulation up and down the shelves Of the universe are seeking ... who knows except themselves? What some escape to, some escape: if we find Swann's Way better than our own, an trudge on at the back Of the north wind to -- to -- somewhere east Of the sun, west of the moon, it is because we live By trading another's sorrow for our own; another's Impossibilities, still unbelieved in, for our own ... "I am myself still?" For a little while, forget: The world's selves cure that short disease, myself, And we see bending to us, dewy-eyed, the great CHANGE, dear to all things not to themselves endeared.