Ars Libri: After Archibald MacLeish

J. Patrick Lewis

From Countdown to Summer: A Poem for Every Day of the School Year by J. Patrick Lewis.

A book should be spirited and odd
As a divining rod,

Wild
As the wonder of a child,

Open to the sky and the slanting rain
As an attic’s shattered windowpane.

A book should measure its success
By a censor’s distress.

A book should be a million candle-watts
Of afterthoughts,

Brilliant as a marbled vein in a quarry
Of story,

Bold enough to leave behind
Unpeace of mind.

A book should be a welcome overnight guest
Long after a day’s standardized test.

A book should be the map, flashlight and skeleton key
To literacy.

For all imaginations out of whack or work,
The CEO and the filing clerk,

For kids
Who yearn to see but hesitate to dream—

A book should both be
And seem. 

J. Patrick Lewis served as the US Children’s Poet Laureate from 2011-2013 and received the National Council of Teachers of English Excellence in Children’s Poetry Award in 2011. He has published over 85 books for children and young adults.