Rooms filled with words

The universe (which others call the Library) is composed of an indefinite, perhaps infinite number of hexagonal galleries. Jorge Lous Borges, The Library of Babel.

Which came first, the library 
or the librarians?
Were the first explorers 
racing blindly through the corridors 
through rooms
merely conquerors of books,
or priests 
fumbling blindly through the maze 
to silence heresy of words
or were they just librarians, 
writing catalogs in braille?
Who made the first entry 
in our infinite catalog?
Who burned the first book?
For warmth or just in fear?

At first, the rooms (corridor-connected), 
must have been dim
shadows making letters grey
and I imagine how the first librarian  
must have used his fingers
tracing words from rows of letters
putting sense in syllables
and sentence to enlightenment.

Today we know the answers,
born from books
but have ceased
to ask the questions connecting
life to words.

Today Laura hosts Poetics at dVerse on the topic of rooms. I went back into the library today

May 26, 2020

20 responses to “Rooms filled with words

  1. I’m so happy to be back in the library with you, Björn, I’ve missed the aged librarian and rooms filled with words. I love the opening question and the image of ‘conquerors of books, / or priests / fumbling blindly through the maze’. I also love the lines:
    ‘…I imagine how the first librarian
    must have used his fingers
    tracing words from rows of letters
    putting sense in syllables
    and sentence to enlightenment.’

  2. of course no better place for the aged librarian – a reading room full of marvellous questions and the memo at the end reminding us
    “to ask the questions connecting
    life to words.”

  3. Good to hear from the librarian again. That last stanza is philosophically profound!

  4. Which came first? Stories. I like how you made the librarians blind. Anyone who loves to read knows the stories are between the lines… Excellent poem, Bjorn.

  5. Your photo reminds me of the great Library in Alexandria, supposedly housing all the world’s knowledge, lost when it burned to the ground; but somehow through oral history and rogue copies, libraries made a comeback.

  6. I love your response to the prompt. Of course, libraries–rooms without ending. I liked all the questioning, and I can image the ancient librarian posing them to a disciple

  7. ‘Rooms filled with words’. What a wonderful description of libraries. It will be so good when they open up again.
    The last verse of your poem is powerful. That is indeed the question we need to be asking ourselves at this time.

  8. I ALWAYS love your libray/librarian posts, Bjorn! And this one….that age-old question “which came first the chicken or the egg” inverted/transformed into which came first, the library or the librarian? Just a fabulous take on the prompt!

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