Poem: Myself at the Bookseller's by M. Kodak

I do not drink or gamble - I only dissipate with books.
Every now and then the hunger comes upon me;
And I hurry along to the bookseller's.
There are books heaped on tables and more books piled to the ceiling;
Books by old men and young men and fools and flappers;
Books on philosophy and engineering and exploration and love --
Especially books on love.
Men climb up long ladders and peer at books through spectacles;
Other men go down on their knees and grope in dark cupboards for books --
Books large and dusty and very small books with gilt edges.
I go amongst the books and turn their pages and peer at their backs;
It gives me a strange pleasure just to take them up and put them down again.
I would not be allowed to do the same thing in a butcher's shop,
Or a grocer's,
Or a chemist's.
Someone would linger round me, and ask me if I wanted to buy something.
But everything is different in a bookseller's.
I am allowed to wander where I will, and do what I like.
I turn over the stock and put it back again.
I wander from exploration to civil engineering,
From electricity to poetry, and from fiction to theology.
I look at new books, and second-hand books, at publishers' remainders and dead men's libraries.
I do not know what I want, or if I really want it.
I do not even know if I can afford it.
I have books at home that I have no time to read.
I also have books at my office that I have no time to read.
But I have an idea that I want nore books.
And more books.
My hands are busy amongst the books, but my mind is a blank.
I love the books piled to the ceilings!
I love the books heaped on the floor!
I love the books I cannot see!
They are all like beautiful, mysterious women!
I probably would not understand half of them!
The other half would probably bore me!
Already I spend too much time inside reading!
And too much time writing!....
I look round at the books - the heavy, unnecessary books!
How disgusting! How superfluous they are!
The philosophers are probably mere buzzers!
Lots of them are dead, and lots of them ought to be dead!
I think I would lie to hang a few authors!
And a few publishers!
I would like to hang them closely so they would obscure their shelves of rotten books!
It dawns up on that I should not come into this charnel house.
I leave the place in disgust, and walk quickly away down the street.
I have bought nothing,
I have stolen nothing,
But I have had my debauch of books!
Is it not immoral!

First published in The Bulletin, 29 April 1915.

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This page contains a single entry by Perry Middlemiss published on April 30, 2005 10:15 AM.

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