From streets and the dirty places,
The frost of the forgetful faces
I have found me a refuge, the past;
From the heat and the dust, the bitter
Forgetfulness, it is far sweeter
To seek the soothing calm of the past.
Oh, the past is the books, in pages
That have come from the flight of the ages,
Like wings that have settled at last;
Oh, the whirl and the fret of the present,
Books are nights with a moon senescent,
Folded wings that are resting at last.
Books are empires, ‘twixt their covers,
The ruin or the memory hovers
From the wonder of states that have sped,
As I sleep, though soul-weary, I am able,
With an old book asprawl on my table,
To dream of empires that are dead.
Books are the dead, I must borrow
My lights from the print with some sorrow,
For I see in a book and old tomb;
The books, the dear books, are Death’s meeting,
Our times are short, the days are fleeting,
And a book is the dust - - and a tomb.