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Poetry Corner | Book Lover by Robert William Service

Celebrating our silent besties: Books!

Old Book Smell pic

For a bibliophile (and possible hoarder) like me, knowing that the Southern Festival of Books is always held the weekend closest to my birthday is the best reason to look forward to being a year older. This is practically three days of geeking out over books new and old, established and emerging authors and the opportunity to meet them, getting your books signed and geeking out some more. There are panels and discussions, readings and elbow-brushing over the book tables. And geeking out some more.

I thought this would be a great opportunity to share a poem about loving, longing and living for books. And if you would like to share your favorite books, or have a suggestion for a poet or poem to feature here, let us know in the comments!

Happy reading!

Book Lover

I keep collecting books I know
I’ll never, never read;
My wife and daughter tell me so,
And yet I never head.
“Please make me,” says some wistful tome,
“A wee bit of yourself.”
And so I take my treasure home,
And tuck it in a shelf.

And now my very shelves complain;
They jam and over-spill.
They say: “Why don’t you ease our strain?”
“some day,” I say, “I will.”
So book by book they plead and sigh;
I pick and dip and scan;
Then put them back, distrest that I
Am such a busy man.

Now, there’s my Boswell and my Sterne,
my Gibbon and Defoe;
To savour Swift I’ll never learn,
Montaigne I may not know.
On Bacon I will never sup,
For Shakespeare I’ve no time;
Because I’m busy making up
These jingly bits of rhyme.

Chekov is caviare to me,
While Stendhal makes me snore;
Poor Proust is not my cup of tea,
And Balzac is a bore.
I have their books, I love their names,
And yet alas! they head,
With Lawrence, Joyce and Henry James,
My Roster of Unread.

I think it would be very well
If I commit a crime,
And get put in a prison cell
And not allowed to rhyme;
Yet given all these worthy books
According to my need,
I now caress with loving looks,
But never, never read.

by Robert William Service

 

Photo Credit: Creative Commons License Old Book Smell by Paul Miller is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License.

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About Tomi Wiley (38 Articles)
Tomi L. Wiley is the Poetry and Short Fiction Editor for Sweatpants & Coffee.com. She has written and edited for media including Southern Living and Oxford American magazines, has been published in the literary anthologies Milk & Ink: a Mosaic of Motherhood, Telling Tales, Maypop and the Southeast Review, has coordinated panels for the Southern Festival of Books, spoken on the creative writing process at Middle Tennessee State University and the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, and is a past president of the Tennessee Writers Alliance. She lives in Knoxville, where she is writing her first novel with the help of lots of wine, goat cheese and the Barefoot Contessa.

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