The sum total of human knowledge and understanding
Surrounds me on all four sides and below,
I glance out of the window detracted from my browsing,
Then back among the shelves I humbly go.
It’s only here I take in the enormity of truth,
And equally the falsehood of dogma,
To think our species this far down the line is still a youth
Is a paradox of the first order.
Numerous subject matters, uncountable references,
What single mind could catalogue all this?
Expert opinion far and wide, myriad differences,
Paradox, fallacy, antithesis.
The greatest achievements of the finest of human brains
Live side by side with tomes of ignorance,
As down through the millennia what little truth remains
Of once great dogmas shrinks to impotence.
Today’s fiction, yesterday’s fairy tale, tomorrow’s fact,
No longer can the disbelieving sneer,
In massive macropaedia or microfilm compact,
The proof of all that’s possible is here.
The dusty shelves lined with the important and trivial,
The speculative and the possible,
Formal, stiff collared text books, others more convivial,
Listing the certain and the probable.
Back at the window I stare out across this famous town,
How truly splendid its buildings appear,
No matter though how famed may be its beauty or renown
It never will compare with what’s in here.
[This was written before I’d ever used the British Library; it’s based on a memory of the reference library in Bradford.]
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