Andrew Lang

Ballades II - Of the Book-Hunter

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IN torrid heats of late July,
In March, beneath the bitter bise,
He book-hunts while the loungers fly,
He book-hunts, though December freeze;
In breeches baggy at the knees,
And heedless of the public jeers,
For these, for these, he hoards his fees,—
Aldines, Bodonis, Elzevirs.

No dismal stall escapes his eye,
He turns o’er tomes of low degrees,
There soiled romanticists may lie,
Or Restoration comedies;
Each tract that flutters in the breeze
For him is charged with hopes and fears,
In mouldy novels fancy sees
Aldines, Bodonis, Elzevirs.

With restless eyes that peer and spy,
Sad eyes that heed not skies nor trees,
In dismal nooks he loves to pry,
Whose motto evermore is Spes!
But ah! the fabled treasure flees;
Grown rarer with the fleeting years,
In rich men’s shelves they take their ease,—
Aldines, Bodonis, Elzevirs!

ENVOY

Prince, all the things that tease and please,—
Fame, hope, wealth, kisses, cheers, and tears,
What are they but such toys as these,—
Aldines, Bodonis, Elzevirs?

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Andrew Lang