Just picked up a copy of WS Merwin's "The Shadow of Sirius" and it blew me away. an odd thing, though; I got through the first five or six very lyrical pieces, and had to stop. Since then I've been carrying it around like a partially opened treasure, almost afraid to keep going. It's become my Linus blanket of books. I need it near me, but not to read. Not yet.
The ugly is Barnes and Noble, a fairly sturdy candidate in the book chains for their attention to poetry--it's been six months or so since I was there last, and the poetry section which once stretched half the length of the store, now stretches three long bookcases, head high. No one bothers any longer to keep the books in order, and if you want, say, Kooser, you start at the first book and hunt until you find one. If any. By next year, I said to the clerk, there won't be any. He nodded and said, by next year, if that happens, I'm gone.
I think we're seeing a dark ages coming, one store at a time. I always wondered what it would be like to be at the edge of a new Dark Age, and it's not much fun. It's all coming unglued, faster and faster. Perhaps the computer will be our monks, our scribes, storing information until such time as people can remember how to read again, how to turn the damn things on, how to use that information. Im glad in a strange way to have seen that terribly sinster dark edge, but even gladder I won't be around to watch what happens.