Poem: The Readerless Legion by Harrison O. (Robert John Owen)

They stand in rows upon my shelves,
   The books I have not read;
For up to now no time I've found.
But still, they're rather nicely bound,
   And even seem to spread
An influence about my den
That serves to speed a lagging pen.

At divers times I purchased them --
   The Lord, perhaps, knows why!
Yet this untasted mental meal
Somehow contrives to make me feel
   My Aim in Life is High,
And that I own a fearful lot
Of knowledge that I haven't got.

The girls who sometimes grace my room
A weighty tome will touch,
And guilessly express surprise
That one so young should be so wise,
   And should have read so much!
They purr, while backs of books they scan,
"It's nice to know a brainy man."

I smile and blush, and strive to look
   As modest as I can,
But do not feel a fraud, for now
I have convinced myself somehow
   That I'm a Well-Read Man,
And thus have made a stepping-stone
Of unread books to Learning's throne.

Still, there are volumes on my shelves
   Whose aspect makes it plain
That constant usage they have seen,
And in my eager hands have been
Again and yet again.
   They've furnished me with quite a store
Of most profound and varied lore.

Someone's encyclopaedia,
   A Greek mythology,
The charming book that Bartlett wrote
For writers who desire to quote,
   A rhyming diction'ry,
Thumbed like a Baptist's book of hymns,
Smith's "Synonyms and Antonym";

Roghet's Thesaurus, Whitaker,
   A somewhat ancient Burke --
There are the volumes that I love.
But one I place the rest above --
   A most delightful work,
Of infinite variety --
The late N. Webster's gift to me!

First published in The Bulletin, 8 July 1915

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This page contains a single entry by Perry Middlemiss published on October 7, 2006 9:48 AM.

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