Scholarly Pursuits

Writhing in the tall stacks,

Hands held high against the books,

She eyed him with a flaming look

As he passed in scholarly innocence,

Searching for a quotable line

For a talk he’d soon deliver.


His topic being the coming crisis

In western society, whose author’s thesis

Was how covert assumptions cast

A shadow on a thinker’s pride

When not admitted openly.

He planned to emphasize that author’s own

Secret thoughts, what prompted him

To make such claims about others

As if he weren’t their sly brother.


After his revealing talk,

He madly rushed

Back to the church of books

Hoping to catch the flaming look

That so aroused his scholarly focus.

This time not to find a quotable line

To dazzle faces set around a table

Eager to enable intellectual fables

Of why ideas so crippled them.


His mind was strung with other thoughts

That needed no quotable validation,

Filled as his chest was with palpitation

Barely concealing the burning wish

That his lady of the stacks still lingered

Between fact and fiction, still wishing

To bring him down to solid ground

From which scholars tend to rise.


But she was gone, as any wakeful person

Would expect. In the long aisle of books

From which she cast that flaming look

He found the spot where she was standing.

Up where her hot hands had rested

A note was taped upon a certain spine:

The Collected Poems of W. B Yeats.

“I’m sorry you missed me,” she wrote,

“but don’t miss the poem on page 91.”


He opened and read the words of crazy Yeats:

“The fascination of what’s difficult

Has dried the sap out of my veins, and rent

Spontaneous joy and natural content

Out of my heart. There’s somethings ails our colt.”

What gain his classical training, the Latin

Phrasing, the complex sentences, sociology

Of sociology, vocabulary to stun the stars.

Did Catullus spend his days on epistemology?



Then he noticed her note continued on the back,

“I’ll soon be leaving the university

To enter the world where war is raging

And passionate poets are needed.

Maybe Yeats was wrong the day he wrote

That all that’s beautiful floats away like water.

He sure was right ‘wine comes in at the mouth

And love comes in at the eye, that’s all

We shall know for truth

Before we grow old and die.

I lift the glass to my mouth

I look at you and sigh.’








2 thoughts on “Scholarly Pursuits”

  1. Thanks, Ed, for reaching the existential dimension of life in this evocative poem. On the most fundamental level, I believe, genuine art, transcending entertainment, constitutes the most powerful and persistent challenge to what we have come to call neoliberalism, the ultimate goal of which is the futile attempt to commodify the human spirit. Thus, despite all appearances, that system has set itself up to fail, and in that, I also believe, lies our hope and courage and confidence.

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