Saturday, July 15, 2006

The Bibliomaniac's Prayer

(A little gem I recently discovered... very appropriate, too. Today we travel north to Champaign, where bookstores await. -- slj)

Keep me, I pray, in wisdom's way
      That I may truths eternal seek;
I need protecting care to-day,--
    My purse is light, my flesh is weak.
So banish from my erring heart
    All baleful appetites and hints
Of Satan's fascinating art,
    Of first editions, and of prints.
Direct me in some godly walk
    Which leads away from bookish strife,
That I with pious deed and talk
    May extra-illustrate my life.

But if, O Lord, it pleaseth Thee
    To keep me in temptation's way,
I humbly ask that I may be
    Most notably beset to-day;
Let my temptation be a book,
    Which I shall purchase, hold, and keep,
Whereon when other men shall look,
    They'll wail to know I got it cheap.
Oh, let it such a volume be
    As in rare copperplates abounds,
Large paper, clean, and fair to see,
    Uncut, unique, unknown to Lowndes*.

--Eugene Field (1850-1895)

*William Thomas Lowndes (17xx-1843), compiler of the Bibliographer's Manual of English Literature (1838).


  1. Love this! Thanks for sharing.

    I wish I'd memorised it before the New England Antiquiarian Book Fair....

  2. That's a great poem!

  3. Isn't it though?

    I was good, I didn't buy anything. But I did come home and put some novels in my Amazon shopping cart.

  4. I followd marg's link here ... 3 days too late. But I'll remember this my next trip to the bookstore though. LOL ;)

  5. Good thing for Mr. Lowndes that Amazon wasn't around in his time.

  6. I'm not all that into first editions, in any case, unless that's the only way the books are available. Given the choice, I'd rather have a crisp, new 2nd edition than an old and ratty 1st. So Field and I will differ on that score.