Meditation on Some Bookshelves Shortly to Be Built

Friend carpenter, in re those shelves of mine,
 It matters little of what wood you build them:
Seek out no oak or walnut; common pine,
 Or cypress, will look well when I have filled them.

No doors of glass, or scroll-work done for looks;
 No cornices, no carving, and no beading—
The ornaments of bookshelves are the books,
 And mine are not for show, but all for reading.

The topmost shelf eight inches, if you please,
 To hold my dumpy twelves and my 16mos;
The others measured taller by degrees
 For books like Henry Adams and his keen mots .

And now, while all my volumes are still boxed
 And stand about in dreary packing cases,
I'll think about their pages—clean or foxed—
 And plan just how I'll put them in their places.

My “Everymans”—six feet of varied hue—
 Chatto and Windus' pocket R.L.S.'s—
The India-paper Boswell, fat and blue,
 A noble bit of work from Oxford's presses.

The small red Shakespeares—Robby Burns's tunes—
 My Bunyan, my “Urn Burial,” my Borrow—
The bright green Lamb (thin paper) made by Newnes—
 (I wish those shelves could be done by tomorrow!)

The tiny Omar from Southampton Row
 Tersely inscribed with two sets of initials,
Which same (the first I gave Her, long ago)
 Brought us at last to City Hall officials.
The Houghton-Mifflin Keats means much to me

 (Bought from John Wanamaker, when a stripling),
And Thomas Mosher's grand facsimile
 Of “Leaves of Grass” (the First)—and here's my Kipling!

“Vergilii Maronis Opera”
 Imprinted 1873 at Leipsic;
My Goldsmith, stained with tea at Thompson's Spa;
 My Apperson on Smoking, when I'm pipe-sick.

My “Bibelots,” “World's Classics,” and my “Bohns”;
 (I'd like to see those books again this minute!)
My Poe, in Baltimore (at Hochschild Kohn's)
 I got for 19 cents—the mark is in it.

And does my Conrad go up here? He does.
 And my McFee, whose writing is a strong man's.
And old Burnand, put out by Roberts Bros.,
 And De la Mare, with the imprint of Longmans.

I must not start upon this theme again;
 I will compose my longings unto slumber;
For Harry Smith says he can't tell just when
 He'll get that much desiderated lumber.

But when brave Harry comes with wood and paints,
 And in their nest my bairns are safely brooded,
I'll number o'er my literary saints,
 And his good name will surely be included!
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