The Librarian

by Charles Olson

Charles Olson

The landscape (the landscape!) again: Gloucester,
the shore one of me is (duplicates), and from which
(from offshore, I, Maximus) am removed, observe.

In this night I moved on the territory with combinations
(new mixtures) of old and known personages: the leader,
my father, in an old guise, here selling books and manuscripts.

My thought was, as I looked in the window of his shop,
there should be materials here for Maximus, when, then,
I saw he was the young musician has been there (been before me)

before. It turned out it wasn’t a shop, it was a loft (wharf-
house) in which, as he walked me around, a year ago
came back (I had been there before, with my wife and son,

I didn’t remember, he presented me insinuations via
himself and his girl) both of whom I had known for years.
But never in Gloucester. I had moved them in, to my country.

His previous appearance had been in my parents’ bedroom where I
found him intimate with my former wife: this boy
was now the Librarian of Gloucester, Massachusetts!

Black space,
old fish-house.
of ghosts.
his steps.
(not my father,
by name himself
with his face
at birth)
possessed of knowledge
giving me
what in the instant
I knew better of.

But the somber
place, the flooring
crude like a wharf’s
and a barn’s

I was struck by the fact I was in Gloucester, and that my daughter
was there—that I would see her! She was over the Cut. I
hadn’t even connected her with my being there, that she was

here. That she was there (in the Promised Land—the Cut!
But there was this business, of poets, that all my Jews
were in the fish-house too, that the Librarian had made a party

I was to read. They were. There were many of them, slumped
around. It was not for me. I was outside. It was the Fort.
The Fort was in East Gloucester—old Gorton’s Wharf, where the Library

was. It was a region of coal houses, bins. In one a gang
was beating someone to death, in a corner of the labyrinth
of fences. I could see their arms and shoulders whacking

down. But not the victim. I got out of there. But cops
tailed me along the Fort beach toward the Tavern

The places still
half-dark, mud,
coal dust.

There is no light
of the Bridge

Only on the headland
toward the harbor
from Cressy’s

have I seen it (once
when my daughter ran
out on a spit of sand

isn’t even there.) Where
is Bristow? when does I-A
get me home? I am caught

in Gloucester. (What’s buried
behind Lufkin’s
Diner? Who is

Frank Moore?

The Collected Poems of Charles Olson: Excluding the Maximus Poems

Last updated May 27, 2023