Thursday, November 5, 2009

george whitman

Shakespeare & Co. is my idea of the perfect refuge, and while my Parisian affair was brief, I spent a generous amount of time in this warm, affable bookstore just across the Seine from Notre Dame.

The Sundance Channel aired a special on George Whitman, ex-patriot and owner of Shakespeare & Co., entitled Portrait of a Bookstore as an Old Man. At the end of the documentary, Whitman recites the poem below. I fell in love with his cadence, the serenity in his gaze, the simplicity of that moment he chose to share his poem, the eccentricity of his haircut. I’ve memorized his poem and it’s morphed into mantra of sorts; I catch myself thinking the words without realizing I’m doing so.

Here is my best effort at putting this poem on paper (so to speak). I can't find it in written form, trust me, I've tried:

Among the visions which my fancies trace
There was one brightest star, one face -
One image from afar filled with syruped grace

Each poem is her heart’s fantasy
Each flower and tree is framed within her memory
Each dream, each midnight, and each dawn
Are garments, thoughts of her put on

Each beam of light from the imperial blue
With her in falls the good
The beautiful
The true

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