In the reading room (Poem by Gillian Clarke)

You scan the stream, silver-eyed as a heron
searching the surface for what might betray
a halt in the flow, pentameter’s delay,
a master’s faded words, his lexicon.

Before you, found in an old book
marking a page, a longhand manuscript.
Look, where the knib unloaded ink and dipped
and rose again, leaving a blot on the downstroke,

writing by candlelight in another century,
wind in the chimney, maybe, the pen’s small sound.
You write: ‘Anonymous. Date a mystery.
Some words illegible. No signature found.’

Yet the poem sings in your mind from the silent archive
and all the dead words speak, aloud, alive.