[comrades] are ashes, entrails, dung, stove smoke, clay, and they’ll all return to clay. They’re full of dirt, candle oil, droppings, dust. You, O Book, my pure, shining precious, my golden singing promise, my dream, a distant call— O tender specter, happy chance, Again I heed the ancient lore, Again with beauty rare in stance, You beckon from the distant shore!” You, Book! You are the only one who won't deceive, won't attack, won't insult, won't abandon! You're quiet--but you laugh, shout, and sing; you're obedient--but you amaze, tease and entice; you're small but you contain countless peoples. Nothing but a handful of letters, that's all, but if you feel like it, you can turn heads, confuse, spin, cloud, make tears spring to the eye, take away the breath, the entire soul will stir in the wind like a canvas, will rise in the waves and flap its wings! Sometimes a kind of wordless feeling tosses and turns in the chest, pounds its fists on the door, the walls: I'm suffocating! Let me out! How can you let that feeling out, all fuzzy and naked? What words ca you dress it in? We don't have any words, we don't know! Just like wild animals, or a blindlie bird, or a mermaid--no words, just a bellowing. But you open a book--and there they are, fabulous, flying words: O city! O wind! O snowstorms and blizzards! O azure abyss all raveled and tattered! Here am I! I'm blameless! I'm with you forever... ...Or there's bile and sadness and bitterness. The emptiness dries your eyes out and you search for the words, and here they are: But is the world not all alike? From the Cabbala of Chaldaic signs Throughout the ages, now and ever more, To the sky where the even star shines. The same old wisdom--born of ashes, And in that wisdom, like our twin, The face of longing, frailty, fear, and sin, Stares straight across the ages at us.