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Poems About Reading

Table of Contents

  1. The Book-Worm by C.W. Pearson
  2. The Way to Travel by Anonymous
  3. Picture-Books in Winter by Robert Louis Stevenson
  4. A Course of Regular Reading by Anonymous
  5. Fragmentary by Anonymous
  6. Fossils by by Amos Russel Wells
  7. The Land of Story-Books by Robert Louis Stevenson
  8. On Reading by Thomas Bailey Aldrich
  9. In a Library by Emily Dickinson
  10. XXI. A Book by Emily Dickinson
  11. XVI. A Book by Emily Dickinson
  12. XXVI. In a Library. 1. by Christopher Pearse Cranch
  13. XXVII. In a Library. 2. by Christopher Pearse Cranch
  14. Reading Aloud by Christopher Morley

  1. The Book-Worm

    by C.W. Pearson

    To heroes who on battlefields win fame
    We do not grudge the lordly lion's name;
    Those who, insensible to others' cares,
    Are always rough and surly, we call bears;
    To those who learn no lesson from what passes,
    The ever dull and stupid, we call asses.
    All claim to be a lion I resign,
    And shun all bearish traits and asinine;
    Nature has cast me for another part
    And I embrace my lot with all my heart;
    To satisfy an ever-craving need,
    All day upon the leaves of books I feed,
    And by night I find a resting-place
    In what by day appears of books a case;
    Thus day and night I think my title firm
    To be that busy idler—a book-worm.

  2. The Way to Travel

    by Anonymous

    Some people travel in their autos,
    Some travel in the railway cars;
    But I've a better way to travel,
    Unbroken by your bolts and jars—
    A better way than horse or cycle,
    Than biplane, steamer, or canoe;
    The quite ideal way to travel
    To Patterson or Timbuctoo.
    My way is swift as any eagle,
    Or tarries for a steady look—
    The way of greatest ease and comfort:
    To wit, I travel with a book.

    I dread no storms, I mock at danger,
    I reach the farthest, know the near;
    I pierce the desert and the jungle,
    Without the tremor of a fear.
    I find the wisest of companions,
    I get the sagest of advice,
    And all my travelling is buttressed
    With comforts of the highest price.
    What is the best of travel volumes,
    For highway, byway, hidden nook?
    The book with which I choose to journey?
    Of course it is the pocketbook!

  3. Picture-Books in Winter

    by Robert Louis Stevenson

    Summer fading, winter comes—
    Frosty mornings, tingling thumbs,
    Window robins, winter rooks,
    And the picture story-books.

    Water now is turned to stone
    Nurse and I can walk upon;
    Still we find the flowing brooks
    In the picture story-books.

    All the pretty things put by,
    Wait upon the children's eye,
    Sheep and shepherds, trees and crooks,
    In the picture story-books.

    We may see how all things are,
    Seas and cities, near and far,
    And the flying fairies' looks,
    In the picture story-books.

    How am I to sing your praise,
    Happy chimney-corner days,
    Sitting safe in nursery nooks,
    Reading picture story-books?

  4. A Course of Regular Reading

    by Anonymous

    Master Bee, as you wanton among the sweet flowers,
    On your busy, gay loaferage speeding,
    Is there any bee-critic to poison your hours
    With advice as to regular feeding?

    Master Thrush, now a-sulk with a sniff for a song,
    Now a-tilt in a frenzy ecstatic,
    Is there any thrush Solon to tell you how wrong
    Is singing thus wild and erratic?

    Master Butterfly, lying along the smooth breeze,
    Or tumbling on meadow waves surging,
    Do butterfly wiseacres trouble your ease,
    Some regular exercise urging?

    Merry masters, pray tell: what reply shall I make
    To their dull and redoubtable pleading
    Who bid me such frolics as yours to forsake
    For a course of regular reading?

    Can I hope to explain how a nibble of Lamb
    Makes Bacon the easier eating?
    How a wee sip of Burns, Just the tiniest dram,
    Clears the mind for a Miltonic meeting?

    Can I make them perceive, with my Shakespeare and Grote,
    How the first gains strength from the other,
    As that mystic old giant more mightily
    Each time that he touched his Earth mother?

    Do you think they will see how we verily know,
    In defiance of regular order,
    All the nooks of the woods, all the flowers where they grow,
    While they have but crept through the border?

  5. Fragmentary

    by Amos Russel Wells

    I like the little poems
    That hide in little books,
    Waiting for little snatches
    In little, cozy nooks

    They mind me of the robins,
    With fragrant whiffs of song,
    Far dearer than Beethoven,—
    But that is very wrong!

    Perhaps if life in ordered
    Continuance would run,
    Not now a bit of shadow
    And now a bit of sun,—

    Perhaps I might, if living
    Were epic-long and wide,
    Care less for little poems
    In little books that hide.

  6. Fossils

    by Amos Russel Wells

    The time was Carboniferous,
    The place was by the share.
    Some molecules vociferous
    Of Fe SO4
    Induced a little conifer
    To take them in her stem,
    Letting go the blood and bone of her
    And making room for them
    Until the plant ridiculous
    Was a fossil nothing more
    All because of that iniquitous
    Shrewd Fe SO4

    'Twas the time of Homo Sapiens,
    The place,—a library
    Some dusty tomes of weight lmmense
    By subtle sorcery
    Induced a great philosopher
    To take them in his brain,
    Rejecting, you of course infer,
    Its former contents vain,
    Until the sage rapacious
    Became, one summer day,
    A leather-backed veracious,
    Encyclopc-di-a!

  7. The Land of Story-Books

    by Robert Louis Stevenson [1850-1894]

    At evening when the lamp is lit,
    Around the fire my parents sit;
    They sit at home and talk and sing,
    And do not play at anything.

    Now, with my little gun, I crawl
    All in the dark along the wall,
    And follow round the forest track
    Away behind the sofa back.

    There, in the night, where none can spy,
    All in my hunter's camp I lie,
    And play at books that I have read
    Till it is time to go to bed.

    These are the hills, these are the woods,
    These are my starry solitudes;
    And there the river by whose brink
    The roaring lions come to drink.

    I see the others far away
    As if in firelit camp they lay,
    And I, like to an Indian scout,
    Around their party prowled about.

    So, when my nurse comes in for me,
    Home I return across the sea,
    And go to bed with backward looks
    At my dear land of Story-books.

  8. On Reading

    by Thomas Bailey Aldrich

    Great thoughts in crude, unshapely verse set forth,
    Lose half their preciousness, and ever must.
    Unless the diamond with its own rich dust
    Be cut and polished, it seems little worth.

  9. In a Library

    by Emily Dickinson

    A precious, mouldering pleasure 't is
    To meet an antique book,
    In just the dress his century wore;
    A privilege, I think,

    His venerable hand to take,
    And warming in our own,
    A passage back, or two, to make
    To times when he was young.

    His quaint opinions to inspect,
    His knowledge to unfold
    On what concerns our mutual mind,
    The literature of old;

    What interested scholars most,
    What competitions ran
    When Plato was a certainty.
    And Sophocles a man;

    When Sappho was a living girl,
    And Beatrice wore
    The gown that Dante deified.
    Facts, centuries before,

    He traverses familiar,
    As one should come to town
    And tell you all your dreams were true;
    He lived where dreams were sown.

    His presence is enchantment,
    You beg him not to go;
    Old volumes shake their vellum heads
    And tantalize, just so.

  10. XXI. A Book

    by Emily Dickinson

    He ate and drank the precious words,
    His spirit grew robust;
    He knew no more that he was poor,
    Nor that his frame was dust.
    He danced along the dingy days,
    And this bequest of wings
    Was but a book. What liberty
    A loosened spirit brings!

  11. There is no Frigate like a Book

    by Emily Dickinson

    There is no frigate like a book
    To take us lands away,
    Nor any coursers like a page
    Of prancing poetry.
    This traverse may the poorest take
    Without oppress of toll;
    How frugal is the chariot
    That bears a human soul!

  12. XXVI. In a Library. 1.

    by Christopher Pearse Cranch

    Yet what were love, and what were toil and thought,
    And what were life, bereft of Poesy?
    Who lingers in a garden where the bee
    By no rich beds of fragrant flowers is caught —
    A homely vegetable patch where naught
    Is prized but for some table-caterer's fee,
    And Nature pledged to market-ministry?
    To me another lore was early taught;
    And rather would I lose the dear delights
    Of eye and ear, than wilfully forego
    The power that can transfigure sounds and sights,
    Can steep the world in symbols, and bestow
    The free admittance to all depths and heights,
    And make dull earth a heaven of thought below.

  13. XXVII. In a Library. 2.

    by Christopher Pearse Cranch

    A miracle — that man should learn to fill
    These little vessels with his boundless soul;
    Should through these arbitrary signs control
    The world, and scatter broadcast at his will
    His unseen thought, in endless transcript still
    Fast multiplied o'er lands from pole to pole
    By magic art; and, as the ages roll,
    Still fresh as streamlets from the Muses' hill.
    Yet in these alcoves tranced, the lords of thought
    Stand bound as by enchantment — signs or words
    Have none to break the silence. None but they
    Their mute proud lips unlock, who here have brought
    The key. Them as their masters they obey.
    For them they talk and sing like uncaged birds.

  14. Reading Aloud

    by Christopher Morley

    Once we read Tennyson aloud
    In our great fireside chair;
    Between the lines, my lips could touch
    Her April-scented hair.

    How very fond I was, to think
    The printed poems fair,
    When close within my arms I held
    A living lyric there!

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