The manuscript

Words, words, words taken out of place and mutilated, words from other men — those were the alms left him by the hours and the centuries.
— From The Immortal by Jorge Luis Borges.

In the topmost drawer of his desk the aged librarian keeps a treasured manuscript. A palimpsest of rented words, a ledger inherited from all librarians before him — their (and his) immortality in ink — an epic legacy of ash and bone, the book of all the books, the breadcrumbs left to guide him through the syntax labyrinths of Homer, Plato, Kafka and Cervantes.

Once when he was young he thought it was a nonsense farce, a parody of spoof; bot now he’s seen that it is wisdom sieved from labyrinths of text. A maze with keys that only a librarian keeps.

As young he was explorer and a pilgrim, he thought he was unique, he even thought of leaving for the outside world but once the manuscript got hold of him, he became its gardener, pruning and perfecting the legacy of everything and nothing.

The manuscript has been written, and rewritten, it’s been translated, it’s been interpreted. It’s the wildfire and pestilence of books that chain librarians to libraries. The manuscript is manifold, an infested manifesto. The manuscript is curse and blessing of the written world.

Portrait of Erasmus of Rotterdam Writing by Hans Holbein

Linking to Tuesday Platform at toads.

December 26, 2017

14 responses to “The manuscript

  1. Oh wow, I think this must be my very favourite of your ‘aged librarian’ poems. I love the idea of manuscript as labyrinth, or as a garden he keeps tending … in fact this whole piece of writing.

  2. I’ve always thought (still think) of librarians as mythical creatures, minotaurs in modern clothes–often wearing glasses. They hold the secrets to everything, and if we are good and lucky and deserve it, we get to kiss the words they guard.

    I love that although the poem alludes to “The Immortal”, the tone also brings to mind “Borges and I”.

  3. What a wonderful series this is shaping into Bjorn. Hope this gets published in the new year. And I especially love those manuscripts that chain librarians to libraries.. what a thought!

  4. Yes. The aged librarian as a mythical creature. Not a miniature imprisoned for being a product of his birth but an aged center guarding the knowledge and secrets of his tribe of librarians. And how you have given the manuscript a life of its own.

  5. A prose poem about the aged librarian’s manuscript – how apt, Bjorn!
    I especially love ‘A palimpsest of rented words’, ‘an epic legacy of ash and bone’ and ‘the breadcrumbs left to guide him through the syntax labyrinths of Homer, Plato, Kafka and Cervantes’.
    I also love the library/garden metaphor!

  6. Oh, I love this. I can hear Borges whispering in the background, but you have made the librarian your own.

    Do you know the librarian in the Discworld series? The language is very different, but the love of books is the same.

  7. My goodness this is good!❤️ I love the idea of manuscript as labyrinth, or as a garden which he keeps tending. Beautifully rendered.

  8. It’s the wildfire and pestilence of books that chain librarians to libraries. The manuscript is manifold, an infested manifesto. The manuscript is curse and blessing of the written world.

    The persistence of those dedicated and patient enough to pursue their love will see them as a responsibility to accept come what may!

    Hank

I try to reciprocate all comments. If you want me to visit a particular post, please direct me directly to that post.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.