The experience of visiting a museum is more than educational-- it can be quite personal and transformative. This poem by Billy Collins captures the unique, awe-inspiring and sometimes humbling experience of visiting a museum and submerging oneself complete in its great works of art.
The Brooklyn Museum of Art
I will now step over the soft velvet rope
and walk directly into this massive Hudson River
painting and pick my way along the Palisades
with a stick I snapped off a dead tree.
I will skirt the smoky, nestled towns
and seek the path that leads always outward
until I become lost, without hope
of ever finding the way back to the museum.
I will stand on the bluffs in nineteenth-century clothes,
a dwarf among rock, hills, and flowing water,
and I will fish from the banks in a straw hat
which will feel like a brush stroke on my head.
And I will hide in the green covers of forests
so no appreciator of Fredric Edwin Church,
leaning over the soft velvet rope,
will spot my tiny figure moving in the stillness
and cry out, pointing for the others to see,
and be thought mad and led away to a cell
where there is no vaulting landscape to explore,
none of this birdsong that halts me in my tracks,
and no wide curving of this river that draws
my steps toward the misty vanishing point.
copyright, Billy Collins, 1987