This is fun. This time I forced the pantoum form (lines 2 & 4 in each verse become lines 1 & 3 in the next verse). It started with one line: the third in this poem, which contains the central image in the previous two versions. Now the initial lead-in doesn’t seem to work with the rest of the poem, and I have to trust the reader to know about Plato’s view of reality and to apply it to my thesis that each book provides a different perspective of reality – or possibly a view of a different reality. I did cheat a tiny bit in one place: one letter exchange. I also changed the punctuation at the ends of the lines, but I think that’s allowable. And I double-checked the address in the title – it turns out the library’s actually at Cottman and Oakland, not Cottman and Kindred. It’s been a long time.

For the Northeast Regional Library, on Cottman Avenue

When I was young my books were likewise small
With simple visions of the world around
A book’s a cave with shadows on the wall
To delineate the world and set our bounds.

With simple visions of the world around
They grow more detailed as the readers grow
To delineate the world and set our bounds
And try to make some sense of what we know.

They grow more detailed as the readers grow
We learn to ask the harder questions then
To try to make some sense of what we know.
Those shadows give us some suggestions then.

We learn to ask the harder questions then
That each of us must answer for ourselves.
Those shadows give us some suggestions then;
I found my own truths waited on those shelves.

What each of us must answer for ourselves:
The questions that grow more complex with age
I found my truths began upon those shelves,
A start, though not a finish, on the page.

The questions that grow more complex with age…
When I was young my books were likewise small
A start, though not a finish, on the page
A book’s a cave with shadows on the wall.

I think I like this one best so far. The one thing I do miss is the bit about “gloating on unexhausted treasure”. Before I even got to the cave metaphor, that was my first entry into this poem: the idea that there are more books to read than I have time – that there’s such a Midas-hoard of wealth that there are even more books I’d *want* to read than I have time. I will never finish a book and not be able to find something else to start – at worst it will take a little searching. Since I do enjoy rereading as much or more than reading, though, even with my current more-limited home library there’s usually not more than a few minutes, max, between the end of one book and the decision of which to start next. When I stop to think about it I feel like Uncle Scrooge McDuck swimming in his money vaults. This version of the poem is all solemn stuff about learning / finding / making your own perspective on the world and I miss that happy carefree gloating. Maybe there will be a rev. 4.