by: Frank Dempster Sherman (1860-1916)

      CUP of coffee, eggs, and rolls
      Sustain him on his morning strolls:
      Unconscious of the passers-by,
      He trudges on with downcast eye;
      He wears a queer old hat and coat,
      Suggestive of a style remote;
      His manner is preoccupied,--
      A shambling gait, from side to side.
      For him the sleek, bright-windowed shop
      Is all in vain, -- he does not stop.
      His thoughts are fixed on dusty shelves
      Where musty volumes hide themselves,--
      Rare prints of poetry and prose,
      And quaintly lettered folios,--
      Perchance a parchment manuscript,
      In some forgotten corner slipped,
      Or monk-illumined missal bound
      In vellum with brass clasps around;
      These are the pictured things that throng
      His mind the while he walks along.
      A dingy street, a cellar dim,
      With book-lined walls, suffices him.
      The dust is white upon his sleeves;
      He turns the yellow, dog-eared leaves
      With just the same religious look
      That priests give to the Holy Book.
      He does not heed the stifling air
      If so he find a treasure there.
      He knows rare books, like precious wines,
      Are hidden where the sun ne’er shines;
      For him delicious flavors dwell
      In books as in old Muscatel;
      He finds in features of the type
      A clew to prove the grape was ripe.
      And when he leaves this dismal place,
      Behold, a smile lights up his face!
      Upon his cheeks a genial glow,--
      Within his hand Boccaccio,
      A first edition worn with age,
      “Firenze” on the title-page.

"The Book-Hunter" is reprinted from The Century, vol. 31, issue 1 (November 1885).




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