By 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!
(not my father,
by name himself
with his face
possessed of knowledge
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
There is no light
of the Bridge
Only on the headland
toward the harbor
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
Diner? Who is
- Charles Olson, “The Librarian,” from The Collected Poems of Charles Olson: Excluding the Maximus Poems. Copyright © 1987 by Charles Olson. Reprinted by permission of University of California Press.
- Text: Poetry Foundation: The Collected Poems of Charles Olson: Excluding the Maximus Poems (University of California Press, 1987)
- Video: Net Film