In the Library there are no Mirrors.

The aged librarian never gazes
into mirrors;
he has ceased to search for liver-spots,
and he doesn’t need to know how much his skin
has ceased to tightly wrap his failing flesh
or see the yolk of eggs
remaining in his beard.

He doesn’t need to know
cause between the pages of his most beloved books
he sees himself as don Quijote
being always late to battle windmills
or he feels the weight of poison hemlock
like Socrates
he holds the goblet in his waning hand.

At dusk he talks to shadows:

“My books are mirrors,
the library
both labyrinth and cul-de-sac;
their words are chains
to keep me sane at night”

He falls asleep

and in his dreams
he flees
he dares to meet his youthful face,
a beard-less stranger
mirrored darkly
he sees the canvas that was himself,
before the books took hold
and wrapped his insufficient
soul in shame.

Luca Giordano

Today Amaya inspires us to write poetry on mirrors at dVerse Poetics, and for me that is an excellent way to bring back the aged librarian to the bar.

Also I have to say hello from Claudia who I met yesterday evening where we shared a wonderful dinner with long talks about the pub and how it has changed over the years.

Also linking up to Poetry Pantry.

August 20, 2019

57 responses to “In the Library there are no Mirrors.

  1. Welcome back, aged librarian, I’ve missed you!
    It’s true; I’ve never seen a mirror in a library, except, perhaps, in the staff toilet – we must look our best. When I read ‘the yolk of eggs remaining in his beard’ I want to take him home and look after him, Björn! But I love that he sees himself as a character in one of his beloved books, or as his younger self in dreams, and that his books are mirrors.

  2. What a special day to have met long-time pubtender and poet! After reading your poem I was about to say how any passionate reader needs not look in the mirror nor even travel the world to seek adventure, but I am wrong. There is something that feeds the soul when you connect eye to eye with that of another, something that cannot be found in books, even though just about everything else can. Mirrors can deceive, yes. But so can our reflections in mythical heroes.

  3. Nice description. I like how even the chains keep one sane:
    ““My books are mirrors,
    the library
    both labyrinth and cul-de-sac;
    their words are chains
    to keep me sane at night””

  4. First: LOVE the photo of you and Claudia! I dream of meeting up with some of my dVerse friends on our travels. Would that it could be so….maybe….someday! 🙂
    And….a delight to read about your Librarian again! 🙂 I do so love this character of yours and am always delighted to see him reappear.
    “the yolk of eggs
    remaining in his beard”
    Those words just nail aging….and form such an image in my head.
    Well done….once again!

  5. I very much enjoyed reading your poem. It’s interesting how the books became real as they chain him to sanity and the librarian must visit his real (even if a former) self in his dreams. I like the smoke and mirrors you’ve conjured here. Also, the photo of you and Claudia (who was here before my time) is a wonderful one. In a sort of mirror to your poem, you took the virtual (pub) and shifted it to reality. Now even I’m getting confused 😉

  6. I had to come and greet the aged librarian, whom we have all grown so fond of over time, and to see that he is still working out his chosen way of life.

    And what a treat to see Claudia here too! Great photo of you both, and what a happy meeting it obviously was.

  7. I am sooo GLAD the the librarian has allowed you to write of him again. Mrs. Jim or one of the grandkids tells me when I leave food in my beard. I pretty well have quit using mirrors now. I shave in the shower now but still I use a mirror to trim my mustache and nose hairs.
    In 2008 a small group of us bloggers and families met in Nebraska for what we called “Blogstock ’08”. A whole weekend, we even had a float for the small town (Tekamah) Fourth of July picnic. We keep up excepting one blogging wife, they got a divorce. %2708?m=1

  8. I am so happy to hear the aged librarian speaking again. And love the photo of you and Claudia. How great that you two met, having shared dVerse through the years.

  9. Were you in Germany, or was she in Sweden? The photo really cranked up nostalgia. Claudia jumped onto a prompt last year, but never continued. Hurrah for the Librarian. We never tire of his wisdom, memories, or sadness. Great take on the prompt!

  10. I liked meeting your librarian, who at dusk talks to shadows! He indeed has become tangled in the stories he preserves.
    And what a lovely meeting of souls! Thanks for sharing the photo!

  11. Some of us do see ourselves as the hero in our beloved books, but to me it’s telling that the heroes the aged librarian relates to are doomed and/or mad. I am also intrigued in by the ambivalence he has towards the library, creeping around the edges like a mouse.

  12. Great write BJÖRN, and wonderful picture of you a Claudia. I remember her, as well as Brian Miller, from 2011-12-13. They both would post poems to my prompts on my Writer’s Island blog. They both also visited me here on Image & Verse frequently during those years.

      • Probably Björn, your name doesn’t appear on my Writer’s Island poetry prompt blog, although a number of other dVerse and IGWRT poets used to post to my prompts on WI, which I closed down in 2014, after my overall health failed seriously, following my 3rd heart attack. I have published my Image & Verse site since 2005. I published very little of my work even on my I&V site during that down health period. But my pacemaker in 2017 got me writing again. Nice to know you now Björn, and I like your writing sir! And with that, I’ll shut up.

  13. An excellent poem, Bjorn! Your characterization and buildup are spot-on — I love how you describe the librarian’s physicality as well as the dream where “he sees the canvas that was himself”. The dreams do provide an opportunity to reflect even if we run away from the mirrors otherwise.
    So wonderful that you and Claudia met — it’s such a happy photograph. 🙂

  14. oh, cool that you and Claudia were able to connect.

    seems that windmill tilting is all the vogue these days… as the powers that be forbid any actual change. doesn’t seem like they see the waters rising to soon overtake the dam. (See the report on melting Greenland icecap? sobering…)

  15. I too am glad to hear the return of the aged librarian, with or without egg yolks in his beard. You’ve captured the melancholy void that fills up with the stories on the library shelf. Wonderful write, Björn.

  16. Wonderful photot! I remember Claudia (loved her drawings) and Brian well. Miss them both… does anyone know if Brian Miller is still writing? Love your librarian poems and especially this line here “the library
    both labyrinth and cul-de-sac;”

  17. The border between the actual and the imagined is often fuzzy I find. Like a child, when you get older it often becomes irrelevant. (K)

  18. A very thoughtful piece. You’ve written before on librarian topics. Are you a librarian or do you simply love libraries as much as any good bibliophile should!

  19. fI was wondering when I next see the aged librarian. I love that you described books as mirrors and we get to see what he sees in his dreams. Lovely.

  20. Fun to think of a book as a mirror. He can see what he wants or doesn’t want. The yolk in his beard really got me.

  21. I love your aged librarian poems, this one especially, although I’m sorry to learn that he has an insufficient soul. Perhaps sufficiency will come again. It’s not too late!

  22. Such a heartwarming picture of you and Claudia! 🙂 Love, love this new addition to the librarian series, Bjorn. Each poem portrays the character in a new light and helps understand his many moods especially like; “My books are mirrors, the library both labyrinth and cul-de-sac; their words are chains to keep me sane at night.” 💖💖

  23. Welcome back, Bjorn! It’s so good to read you, especially when you share another glimpse of your librarian. You know, I just finished rereading “The Circular Ruins”, by Jorge Luis Borges. I’ve always thought your librarian would be great friends of the dreamer in Borges’s stories. This poem shows another reason why–the dreamer finds himself in his dream, and your librarian… well, you know.

    Also, I LOVE your jacket!

    • Of course my librarian is inspired a lot by Borges (especially the short story the Library of Babel)… remember that also Umberto Eco named the librarian in his book the name of the rose Jorge of Bourgos … I might want to make the librarian blind as well

  24. I love this whole concept. There are reflections within reflections here, and books are mirrors. Really brilliant. And the librarian such a sympathetic character. Very well written. I enjoyed every moment and read several times.

  25. The aged librarian certainly has stories to tell. Never mind that he is no longer young and has his fantasies. You give him life and develop him as a sympathetic character. I think his library is his life and will be until his death surrounded by books he has loved!!

    Nice that Claudia and you got together. Great photo. Met her myself in Paris one year!!

  26. “My books are mirrors,
    the library
    both labyrinth and cul-de-sac;
    their words are chains
    to keep me sane at night”

    I so like the premise, the real is immaterial as the creates the new real

  27. I can so much relate to the aged librarian. Books are what give him spirit. I love your words and those inspired by famous writers. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this.

  28. We are no different from the story tellers of old, that sage of olden times that told of the clans history and maybe improvised a bit on where they came from. Librarians are merely his (or her) assistant that freely lends stories to genuine clan member!

  29. This piece has such a profound and enduring message – though, sadly it is one that often only comes with age. And that is, that, as we grow older, mirrors matter less and our mind – that great hall, wherein all the contents of our life and learning is housed – is (if we are lucky enough to keep our faculties) where we (mostly) dwell and what we (mostly) dwell upon. I absolutely love that ‘he sees himself as don Quijote’

    The lines:
    “My books are mirrors,
    the library
    both labyrinth and cul-de-sac;
    their words are chains
    to keep me sane at night”
    … are achingly beautiful. And again that whole (very layered and complicated) delicately etched metaphor of aging with its myriad of issues and aspects … good and bad … comes through the strongest in this stanza, I think.

    And – I really enjoyed the photo. So glad you posted it. It is fab!

  30. The aged librarian is an intriguing character. There seems so much to learn from him, yet so little to glean from, for the library is “both labyrinth and cul-de-sac
    so glad you met up with Claudia. there must be lots to talk about. 🙂

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