CUP of coffee, eggs, and rolls
Sustain him on his morning strolls:
Unconscious of the passers-by,
He trudges on with downcast eye;
He wears a queer old hat and coat,
Suggestive of a style remote;
His manner is preoccupied,--
A shambling gait, from side to side.
For him the sleek, bright-windowed shop
Is all in vain, -- he does not stop.
His thoughts are fixed on dusty shelves
Where musty volumes hide themselves,--
Rare prints of poetry and prose,
And quaintly lettered folios,--
Perchance a parchment manuscript,
In some forgotten corner slipped,
Or monk-illumined missal bound
In vellum with brass clasps around;
These are the pictured things that throng
His mind the while he walks along.
A dingy street, a cellar dim,
With book-lined walls, suffices him.
The dust is white upon his sleeves;
He turns the yellow, dog-eared leaves
With just the same religious look
That priests give to the Holy Book.
He does not heed the stifling air
If so he find a treasure there.
He knows rare books, like precious wines,
Are hidden where the sun ne’er shines;
For him delicious flavors dwell
In books as in old Muscatel;
He finds in features of the type
A clew to prove the grape was ripe.
And when he leaves this dismal place,
Behold, a smile lights up his face!
Upon his cheeks a genial glow,--
Within his hand Boccaccio,
A first edition worn with age,
“Firenze” on the title-page."
The Book of Summer by Michelle Gable
13 minutes ago