1900’s Book Poems

Mar 21

I came across some book poems from the early 1900’s. This one is short and sweet, and would actually make a good sign or whatnot…

This book’s one thing,
My foot’s another;
Touch not the one
For fear of the other.1

And this one is rather clever. The man is clearly less impressed with his wife’s preoccupation with reading. He’d rather her be doing something a bit more domestic, as you will read,

My Love in book lore’s very wise,
She cons the ancient classics o’er,
And talks of the “Immortal Four”—
But never talks of making pies.
She raves of Spenser’s “Fairy Queen,”
And Chaucer’s “Canterbury Tales;”
Says modern verse beside them pales—
But mentions not the rare baked bean.
Euripides and Socrates,
Ovid and Homer, all, she quotes;
Is busy with her, “Browning notes”—
But not a note on biscuits sees.
Of books I know not overmuch,
But oft I with my darling plead,
And beg that she will sometimes read
Some books I value—they are such
Juliet Corson’s “Cooking School,”
“Buckeye Cook Book,” “How to Live”
On half enough a week, and give
Three square meals daily, cooked to rule.
I cannot rave of Sappho’s wit,
But Miss Parloa well I know,
And Marion Harland’s worth can show,
And Mrs. Lincoln quote a bit.
Their works are equal, I maintain,
To all the best of ancient books,
For men are civilized by cooks,
More than by Learning’s gentle reign.
Success is work, and hungry men
Few battles win or poems write;
The well-fed mortal wins the fight
In this old world, with sword or pen.2

And a poem that clearly demonstrates a bibliophile…

O silent volumes on my shelves,
That hold the deathless and divine,
Ye have but to reveal yourselves,
And I am yours, as ye are mine!
Mere ink and paper though ye be,
As shells wherein no life appears—
If hand but touched and eye but see,
Then mind meets mind across the years.
Dante and Shakespeare speak once more,
Beethoven sings his soulful strain;
And in the unsealed tombs of yore
Wake all the passion, all the pain.
They are not dead, these silent ones,
Nor dumb, but eloquent with light,
And sparkle like the infinite suns
Beyond our reach, though in our sight.
Like melodies that once have thrilled,
And in the memory never die,
Those calm, majestic voices stilled
Come echoing from eternity.3

  1. Title: A Suggestive Book Inscription, Author: anonymous, in: The Book Lover: A Magazine of Book Lore, Month of Publication: May-June, Year of Publication: 1902 []
  2. Title: Books and Books, Author: Sharlot M. Hall, in: The Book Lover: A Magazine of Book Lore, Month of Publication: Autumn, Year of Publication: 1899 []
  3. Title: Books, Author: anonymous, in: The Book Lover: A Magazine of Book Lore, Month of Publication: May-June, Year of Publication: 1902 []

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