Lori's Book Nook

Quest fulfilled

Posted on: October 10, 2006

So we did it. Traveled all the way to Portland, OR, to visit Powell’s City of Books…a mecca of sorts in the book world.

Was it worth it? Well, it was raining in Portland, so it wasn’t like we were going to do any other sightseeing. We’d woken up late in our campground, which was not in itself a bad thing, but instead of breakfast we had brunch…and we ended up driving all the way home that day/night, instead of either camping in the wet or getting across the mountains and setting up camp at night.

But, I’m not answering the question. Yes. It was worth it. It’s a fabulous bookstore. It makes me happy knowing that there exists a place I can get numerous John Fante or Lawrence Ferlinghetti books, should I need to. It had 4 copies of one of the books on my wishlist, Ursula LeGuin’s Dancing on the Edge of the World…now no longer on my wishlist, but in my library.
Another treasure that is now in my library, for a great price, is the New and Collected Poems: 1931 – 2001 of Czeslaw Milosz, Polish poet & Nobel Prize winner. One of the reasons I wanted a book of his poetry was A Book of Luminous Things: An International Anthology of Poetry — a collection he edited. The choices he made, and his commentary, put him firmly in the category of Poets I Like.

I will leave you with one of his poems, entitled A Boy.

A Boy

Standing on a boulder you cast a line,
Your bare feet rounded by the flickering water
Of your native river thick with water lilies.
And who are you, staring at the float
While you listen to echoes, the clatter of paddles?
What is the stigma you received, young master,
You who are ill with your apartness
And have one longing: to be just like the others?
I know your story and learned your future.
Dressed as a Gypsy girl I could stop by the river
And tell your fortune: fame and a lot of money,
Without knowledge, though, of the price to be paid
Which one does not admit to the envious.
One thing is certain: in you, there are two natures.
The miserly, the prudent on against the generous.
For many years you will attempt to reconcile them
Till all your works have grown small
And you will prize only uncalculated gifts,
Greatheartedness, self-forgetful giving,
Without monuments, books, and human memory.


2 Responses to "Quest fulfilled"

I could live at Powell’s. It’s worth the pilgrimmage. But it’s also too bad you didn’t stay longer, because Portland is a wonderful city. Good things happen to you in Portland; they just fall out of the sky. It’s an amazing place, and also the sole American city where I feel at home. People are very much like Vancouverites, only more open and friendly.

I think everyone has a city/place where good things happen to them…at least I’d like to think so. (I’d also like to think that mine is Paris…)

What I think amused me the most about Powell’s were the regular announcements over the PA: “Attention shopper Jane Doe, please meet your party in the Green Room.”

It’s that big, and people get that lost (in their own sections).

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