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Children Selecting Books In A Library

 With beasts and gods, above, the wall is bright.
The child's head, bent to the book-colored shelves, Is slow and sidelong and food-gathering, Moving in blind grace .
yet from the mural, Care The grey-eyed one, fishing the morning mist, Seizes the baby hero by the hair And whispers, in the tongue of gods and children, Words of a doom as ecumenical as dawn But blanched like dawn, with dew.
The children's cries Are to men the cries of crickets, dense with warmth -- But dip a finger into Fafnir, taste it, And all their words are plain as chance and pain.
Their tales are full of sorcerers and ogres Because their lives are: the capricious infinite That, like parents, no one has yet escaped Except by luck or magic; and since strength And wit are useless, be kind or stupid, wait Some power's gratitude, the tide of things.
Read meanwhile .
hunt among the shelves, as dogs do, grasses, And find one cure for Everychild's diseases Beginning: Once upon a time there was A wolf that fed, a mouse that warned, a bear that rode A boy.
Us men, alas! wolves, mice, bears bore.
And yet wolves, mice, bears, children, gods and men In slow preambulation up and down the shelves Of the universe are seeking .
who knows except themselves? What some escape to, some escape: if we find Swann's Way better than our own, an trudge on at the back Of the north wind to -- to -- somewhere east Of the sun, west of the moon, it is because we live By trading another's sorrow for our own; another's Impossibilities, still unbelieved in, for our own .
"I am myself still?" For a little while, forget: The world's selves cure that short disease, myself, And we see bending to us, dewy-eyed, the great CHANGE, dear to all things not to themselves endeared.

Poem by Randall Jarrell
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