Thursday, August 27, 2020

Poetry on Thursday

Lately, I've been thinking about E. B. White and how he might have written about the pandemic. He wrote some really thoughtful pieces, collected in One Man's Meat, and I feel sure that he would have some honest, gentle, yet truthful words to share if he was alive today.

Since we're not able to read White's words about Covid-19, I'm sharing another one of his poems.

Amelia Givin Free Library Reading Room, Mt. Holly Springs, PA

Reading Room
E. B. White

Sadness and languor along the oak tables
Steady the minds of the sitters and readers;
Sleep and despair, and the stealth of the hunters,
And (in the man at the end of the row) anger.

Books are the door of escape from the forest,
Books are the wilderness, too, for the scholar;
Walled in the past, drowning in fables,
Out of the weather we sit, steady in languor.

Which are the ones that belong, properly?
Which are the hunters, which the harried?
Break not the hush that surrounds this miracle —
Mind against mind, coupling in splendor —
Step on no twig, disturbing the forest.
Enter the aisles of despair. Sit down and be quiet.

White, E.B. "Reading Room". Poems and Sketches of E.B. White, Harper & Row, 1981.

E. B. White was a man who knew fear, anxiety, and self-doubt, like so many of us today, but he still reveled in life. As this week winds down, I wish that all of you might be guided and inspired by someone as wise as E.B. White. 


  1. The reading room has certainly been my favorite place since all this started. As White says, it is my escape. So this poem is very timely, Bonny, and lovely as well. Thank you for this thoughtful post.

  2. What a great poem -- it so perfectly captures the magic of the reading room! When I think of the ultimate cozy reading room, I think of a place I frequently studied in college (but, sadly, I don't think I ever had time to read for pleasure there), the Fisher Fine Arts Library at Penn. I'd encourage you to Google it for some visuals, but if you've seen the movie Philadelphia, you've actually seen it before.

  3. A wise man for sure. Reading brings much joy these days. Thank-you for sharing his words with us today. :-)

  4. E.B. White was brilliant. His words are timely...or perhaps I should say they are ageless! Thank you for sharing!

  5. Sit down and be quiet.

    Lovely. Thank you, Bonny!

  6. I have driven past that library so many times (it's on the road between Gettysburg and Carlisle). Every single time, I comment that it looks like such a cute library and I should go inside sometime. It is built in the same Romanesque style as Glatfelter Hall, but it's smaller and super inviting. Both were built in 1889, so I guess that design was fashionable then. I could verify that they do not have the same architect. I am blown away by this photo of the inside! After COVID-times, I'll definitely have to visit in person.

    About the Givin Library: and

    About Glatfelter Hall: and

    Wouldn't it be cool to be heir to a fortune and use it to build the perfect library for one's community? I bet Amelia was an interesting woman.

  7. E. B. White - a brilliant word smith, a favorite author of mine. So wise and timeless. That is a mighty pretty reading room too.

  8. Very lovely and just the thing for this past week. E.B. White was so wise and a wonderful writer. And that library photo - That is another wonderful place.

  9. Oh steady the minds of the sitters and readers....(i have to add Knitters)


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