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Eugene Field (1850-1895)

The Bibliomaniac's Prayer


              1Keep me, I pray, in wisdom's way
              2    That I may truths eternal seek;
              3I need protecting care to-day,--
              4    My purse is light, my flesh is weak.
              5So banish from my erring heart
              6    All baleful appetites and hints
              7Of Satan's fascinating art,
              8    Of first editions, and of prints.
              9Direct me in some godly walk
            10    Which leads away from bookish strife,
            11That I with pious deed and talk
            12    May extra-illustrate my life.

            13But if, O Lord, it pleaseth Thee
            14    To keep me in temptation's way,
            15I humbly ask that I may be
            16    Most notably beset to-day;
            17Let my temptation be a book,
            18    Which I shall purchase, hold, and keep,
            19Whereon when other men shall look,
            20    They 'll wail to know I got it cheap.
            21Oh, let it such a volume be
            22    As in rare copperplates abounds,
            23Large paper, clean, and fair to see,
            24    Uncut, unique, unknown to Lowndes.

Notes

22] copperplates: prints made from engraved copper plates.

24] Uncut: with unslit leaves (making impossible the reading of the pages)
Lowndes: William Thomas Lowndes (d. 1843), famous English bibliographer.


Online text copyright © 2003, Ian Lancashire for the Department of English, University of Toronto.
Published by the Web Development Group, Information Technology Services, University of Toronto Libraries.

Original text: The Poems of Eugene Field, Complete Edition (Toronto: McClelland and Goodchild, 1910): 22-23. ROBA PS 1665 A2 1910. From Eugene Field, A Little Book of Western Verse (Charles Scribner's Sons, 1896).
First publication date: 1896
RPO poem editor: Ian Lancashire
RP edition: RPO 1997.
Recent editing: 2:2002/3/27

Rhyme: ababcdcdefef


Other poems by Eugene Field