archives sonnet

It’s been a while since I’ve posted a poem. And I am torn about posting today as the original form of this poem was split up into halves for August Postcard Poetry Fest and if I post it now, I wont be able to use it on a postcard next month. Oh what the heck? It is Hart Crane’s birthday, after all.

More context. In real life, I am undergoing a transformation/transition from librarian to archivist. I feel a bit like a caterpillar, but that is material for a future poem!


There are no spirits lurking in the aisles
And corners. Just cartons of documents,
​Details of lives. Whether well-lived or ill,
These papers tell the story – marriage, birth,
Land acquired, taxes. Death. It’s all there.
No need for the rattling sound of zombies –
Ghosts of events yet to come – in graveyards.
Might this be the judgement we fear? The words
And deeds, archived records we leave behind
Won’t deliver us to any heaven –
Or hell. It’s just a mirage, this image
Of hereafter we’ve been trained to accept
As truth, the certain object of our faith:​
​Dried, folded, faded, in a dusty box.



Author: Raymond Maxwell Librarian, archivist, retired foreign service officer and Navy veteran.

4 thoughts on “archives sonnet”

  1. Yes, so much of our lives wrapped up in paper! good poem. Just think of all the poet’s estates that are now being stored all over the country. I read something recently about all the difficulties of storing digital archives also.

    Liked by 1 person

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