by Robert Lima
Backed by nebulous nature,
under forged matrix spirals
from which a path is said to spring,
his silhouetted image sits mid-air
with plumed pen pending in his hand,
looming over the Victorian desk,
whose bowed legs are in symbiosis
with the arching of his back.
It could be Stevenson or Burns or Scott
who, quill in hand, sat for the sign,
stilled in the thought of capture
of that great idea, plot or verse,
or, in generic anonymity,
not one of them at all.
The lantern on the wall
that hangs below whoever’s ken
is dark against the still-bright day,
expecting the lamplighter’s tread,
its vacant hold awaiting
its deliverance by flame.
PHOTO: The Writers’ Museum, Edinburgh, Scotland. Photo by Fotokon, used by permission.
NOTE: The Writers’ Museum celebrates the lives of three giants of Scottish Literature– Robert Burns, Sir Walter Scott, and Robert Louis Stevenson. Home to portraits, rare books, and personal objects, including Burns’ writing desk, the printing press on which Scott’s Waverley Novels were first produced, and the rocking horse he used as a child. The collection also features Robert Louis Stevenson’s riding boots and the ring given to him by a Samoan chief, engraved with the name “Tusitala,” meaning teller of tales,” as well as a plaster cast of Robert Burns’ skull, one of only three ever made. Items of note also include a chair used by Burns to correct proofs at William Smellie’s printing office, and Stevenson’s cabinet made by the infamous Deacon Brodie whose double life may have inspired the novel The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde.
NOTE: Edinburgh is the capital of Scotland and the seat of the Scottish Government, the Scottish Parliament and the Supreme Courts of Scotland. It is the second largest financial center in the United Kingdom (after London), and the city’s historical and cultural attractions have made it the United Kingdom’s second most visited tourist destination, attracting 4.9 million visits including 2.4 million from overseas in 2018. The official population estimates are 518,500 (mid-2019) for the City of Edinburgh council area and 1,339,380 (2014) for the wider city region. Edinburgh is home to national cultural institutions such as the National Museum of Scotland, the National Library of Scotland, and the Scottish National Gallery.
NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: “The Writer” is based on my visits to The Writers’ Museum in Edinburgh, Scotland, on several occasions, and being taken each time by the sign and its locale.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Robert Lima is a Cuban-born award-winning poet, and an internationally recognized critic, bibliographer, playwright, and translator. As a Greenwich Village poet during the 1960s, he read at coffeehouses and other venues, co-edited Seventh Street: Poems of Les Deux Megots, introduced by Denise Levertov, and the second series of Judson Review. His 15 poetry collections include Celestials, Elementals, Sardinia/Sardegna, Ikons of the Past. Poetry of the Hispanic Americas and Writers on My Watch (2020). Over 600 of his poems have appeared in print in the U.S. and abroad. Eleven of his poems have just appeared in Greek translation in Noima Magazine. Among his numerous critical studies are works on García Lorca, Valle-Inclán, Borges, Surrealism, folklore, dramatic literature, and translations of plays and poetry.