Books and Bookmen, by Andrew Lang

Ballade of the Unattainable

The Books I cannot hope to buy,

Their phantoms round me waltz and wheel,

They pass before the dreaming eye,

Ere Sleep the dreaming eye can seal.

A kind of literary reel

They dance; how fair the bindings shine!

Prose cannot tell them what I feel —

The Books that never can be mine!

There frisk Editions rare and shy,

Morocco clad from head to heel;

Shakspearian quartos; Comedy

As first she flashed from Richard Steele;

And quaint De Foe on Mrs. Veal;

And, lord of landing net and line,

Old Izaak with his fishing creel —

The Books that never can be mine!

Incunables! for you I sigh,

Black letter, at thy founts I kneel,

Old tales of Perrault’s nursery,

For you I’d go without a meal!

For Books wherein did Aldus deal

And rare Galliot du Pre I pine.

The watches of the night reveal

The Books that never can be mine!


Prince, bear a hopeless Bard’s appeal;

Reverse the rules of Mine and Thine;

Make it legitimate to steal

The Books that never can be mine!

Last updated Sunday, March 27, 2016 at 11:57