According to a report from the National Endowment for the Arts, the
annual household spending for books in 1985 was $33 and for 2005 was
$28. That's for an entire household!
That seems impossible to believe, since just my yearly book purchases should put it higher than that. :)
It shows, perhaps, how statistics can be manipulated, or maybe book buying really has become that pitiful. When you factor in how the cost of books has risen, $28.00 is about the price of one good hardback. It is a sad statistic, no matter how you look at it. On the other hand, I wonder what the annual household spending is for computers. Perhaps, that tells the story.
One day in that room, a small rat.
Two days later, a snake.
Who, seeing me enter,
whipped the long stripe of his
body under the bed,
then curled like a docile house-pet.
I don't know how either came or left.
Later, the flashlight found nothing.
For a year I watched
as something -- terror? happiness? grief? --
entered and then left my body.
Not knowing how it came in,
Not knowing how it went out.
It hung where words could not reach it.
It slept where light could not go.
Its scent was neither snake nor rat,
neither sensualist nor ascetic.
There are openings in our lives
of which we know nothing.
the belled herds travel at will,
long-legged and thirsty, covered with foreign dust.
- Jane Hirshfield
In the book After by Jane Hirshfield, she has some short poems, she calls Seventeen Pebbles. I give a few.
The woman who will soon
take a lover shaves her legs in the bath,
Would knowing or not knowing she does this please him more?
Ecstasy: Czechoslovakia, 1933
The actress was only seventeen,
and so the director arranged
to have her pricked lightly with pins
at the needed moments.
Character and Life
The young novelist held underwater
the head of the character in his book he loved best.
In the book, and as he wrote,
he counted until he was sure it was finished.
The lake scarlets
the same instant as the maple.
Let others try to say this is not passion.
Its vision sweeps its one path
like an aged monk raking a garden,
his question long ago answered or moved on.
Far off, night-grazing horses,
breath scented with oat grass and fennel,
step through it, disappear, step through it, disappear.
When his ship first came to Australia,
Cook wrote, the natives
continued fishing, without looking up.
Unable, it seems, to fear what was too large to be comprehended.
Three times in one night
a small animal crosses the length of the ceiling.
Each time it goes all the way one way,
all the way back, without hesitation or pause.
Envy that sureness.
It is like being cut flowers, between the field and the vase.
Once I enter a book, it is hard to stop.
ARTICULATION: AN ASSAY
A good argument, etymology instructs,
By this measure,
the most expressive of beings must be the giraffe.
Yet the speaking tongue is supple,
untroubled by bone.
What would it be
to take up no position,
to lie on this earth at rest, relieved of proof or change?
Scent of thyme or grass
amid the scent of many herbs and grasses.
Grief unresisted as granite darkened by rain.
Continuous praises most glad, placed against nothing.
But thought is hinge and swerve, is winch,
we call the mountain in the lake,
whose existence resides in neither stone nor water.
- Jane Hirshfield
Bhutan, as part of their emphasis on Gross National Happiness over Gross National Product, considers the preservation of nature one of the pillars of happiness. Our CA governor might take a lesson from Bhutan.