IN my friend’s library I sit alone,
Hemmed in by books. The dead and living there,
Shrined in a thousand volumes rich and rare,
Tower in long rows, with names to me unknown.
A dim, half-curtained light o’er all is thrown.
A shadowed Dante looks with stony stare
Out from his dusky niche. The very air
Seems hushed before some intellectual throne.
What ranks of grand philosophers, what choice
And gay romancers, what historians sage,
What wits, what poets, on those crowded shelves !
All dumb forever, till the mind gives voice
To each dead letter of each senseless page,
And adds a soul they own not of themselves!


A miracle—that man should learn to fill
These little vessels with his boundless soul ;
Should through these arbitrary signs control
The world, and scatter broadcast at his will
His unseen thoughts, in endless transcript still
Fast multiplied o’er lands from pole to pole
By magic art; and, as the ages roll,
Still fresh as streamlets from the Muses’ hill.
Yet in these alcoves tranced, the lords of thought
Stand bound as by enchantment; signs or words
Have none to break the silence. None but they
Their mute, proud lips unlock who here have brought
The key. Them as their masters they obey.
For them they talk and sing like uncaged birds.
Christopher P. Cranch.