Nantucket Atheneum (founded 1834), A Poem

Nantucket Atheneum (founded 1834)


Two tall fluted columns

Iconic might of golden days, impress

As one steps through

To open massive doors –

Breadth of self diminished.


Those with roles within

Like all before

Gladly handle any quest

with knowing ease –

Sole aim to plenish.


Displayed, a visual expanse

of island’s broad beamed draft


Hardbacks stagger centuries

Scrimshaw engrave an era

Paintings peer their ages

Sculptures shade the past.


A darling, walled figurehead

Reminds the day

Ship captains fathomed away

On discourses –

the Atheneum charted.


Today’s islanders do recall –


The first librarian Maria Mitchell –

A lifelong learner beyond the stars


Here Frederick Douglas let loose his words –

Yet he himself a runaway slave


An American Scholar, Ralph Waldo Emerson –

Liberally, betimes, orated the masses


In Great Hall, Henry David Thoreau, at lectrum asked –

What shall it profit a man if he gain

The whole world and lose his own soul


Calm air of remaining true

Reflects from lined out haul

of illuminating books

Long used and new –

Each a voyage on it’s shelf.


Perused at will, daring plots

Far-reaching to enthrall

Let run to fruition

Or cast aside –

No matter, no need for sail.


Landed we are

At times astray


Inside this towering hold

of Humanities delights –

Safe anchorage is the cheer.


Netted in this main mast

of island watch

A constant beat

The rush of being –

Is chasing valiant dreams.