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.

 

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