by: Frank Dempster Sherman
- 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 neer 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.
MORE POEMS BY FRANK DEMPSTER SHERMAN
"The Book-Hunter" is reprinted
from The Century, vol. 31, issue 1 (November 1885).