THE BOOK HUNTER

I’ve spent all my money in chasing
For books that are costly and rare;
I’ve made myself bankrupt in tracing
Each prize to its ultimate lair.
And now I’m a ruined collector,
Impoverished, ragged, and thin,
Reduced to a vanishing spectre,
Because of my prodigal sin.

How often I’ve called upon Foley,
The man who’s a friend of the cranks;
Knows books that are witty or holy,
And whether they’re prizes or blanks.
For volumes on paper or vellum
He has a most accurate eye,
And always is willing to sell ’em
To dreamers like me who will buy.

My purse requires fences and hedges,
Alas! it will never stay shut;
My coat-sleeves now have deckle edges,
My hair is unkempt and “uncut.”
My coat is a true first edition,
And rusty from shoulder to waist;
My trousers are out of condition,
Their “colophon” worn and defaced.

My shoes have been long out of fashion,
“Crushed leather” they both seem to be;
My hat is a thing for compassion,
The kind that is labelled “n. d.”
My vest from its binding is broken,
It’s what the French call a relique;
What I think of it cannot be spoken,
Its catalogue mark is “unique.”

I’m a book that is thumbed and untidy,
The only one left of the set;
I’m sure I was issued on Friday,
For fate is unkind to me yet.
My text has been cruelly garbled
By a destiny harder than flint;
But I wait for my grave to be “marbled,”
And then I shall be out of print.

— Arthur Macy

Related References