5 Poems About Libraries

The best places in the world have books inside. While we can’t currently be in libraries, we can certainly read poetry about the spaces.

I am all for romanticizing libraries, especially since I haven’t entered one in six months now; and what I can say? Poetry has a way of communicating those feelings perfectly.

Here are five poems about libraries. Or, to be more precise, poems about people who love libraries and take comfort in being in them.



image via unmilked

1. “library”

Father’s books lying on the living-room floor
Must be divided into threes: art history,
Classical letters and, left from my days here,
Unsteady stacks of quasi-educational lore
That show yellowing Geographic scientists
Perennially lost in rain forest mists.
An instant choice will cull some from the rest
So they may become mine—a banausic test.
Prewar light glimmers in the apartment:
A shadowplay that summons an adolescence
Of slammed doors and risible nothings
Hurled at retreating parental backs
—The most telling blows always sotto voce
As I stormed and wept and read in silence.
Now, standing again in silence, I stare
At a word trove given two sons to share. (read more)

2. “branch library”

I wish I could find that skinny, long-beaked boy
who perched in the branches of the old branch library.
He spent the Sabbath flying between the wobbly stacks
and the flimsy wooden tables on the second floor,
pecking at nuts, nesting in broken spines, scratching
notes under his own corner patch of sky. (read more)
image via unsplash


3. “old strange book”

In the story of my life there is a field
filled with chicory, daisies, and mayflowers.
It’s the field behind my childhood house.
In summer, I used to spend hours
lying in it looking at clouds
before my mother brought us to the town pool
where I spent some more hours swimming.
In the other seasons I went to school.
In the school there was a library.
In the story of my life there is a book.
The book was bound in rough green cloth.
Its glossy pages smelled oddly like puke. (read more)

4. “on turning a page in a university library”

A page turns now even as a river that is gone,

While all time crashes through the tall room:

A single thought of imperative transition,

Imperious and whole, insistent of reality,

Rises like a slow continent emerging from waters,

And greets time fully with immobile arms… (read more)


image via unmilked


5. “in the library”

Alone in the public room, listening to retreating footsteps,

Listening to a whistle and a scrap of song,

I who must always tiptoe over floors,

Stand with raised hand and thudding heart outside doorways,

Linger embarrassed in the corridors of life… (read more)


feature image via Flickr