.04) A Galaxy Past Gutenberg - Poem by Max Reif
In the glass case, a Gutenberg bible—
only three like it left in the world.
Surprising myself, I started to cry,
there in the Library of Congress,
as though we were seeing
a Platonic form
instead of a physical thing.
In a sense, the millions of books
in this and every library,
in all the Barnes & Nobles' and Borders'
and the ones on my bookshelves at home
all descended from this book.
In a glass case nearby
an almost identical bible,
handwritten by scribes,
took years to produce—
a labor of love, no doubt,
but Gutenberg granted
every poet the dream
that his own words in print
might encircle the world.
(Now I'll go home and type this
and click. It will un-write itself
into a flow of electrons
like the ones in my brain
that gave it birth,
a swarm of bees
speeding across the world
to rearrange themselves
a few seconds later
so these words
can form on your screen.)
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