Poem of the Day: Of Modern Books
May 8th, 2017 by

Of making many books there is no end,
   Though myriads have to deep oblivion gone;
Each day new manuscripts are being penned,
   And still the ceaseless tide of ink flows on.
Though myriads have to deep oblivion gone,
   New volumes daily issue from the press;
And still the ceaseless tide of ink flows on—
   The prospect is disheartening, I confess.
New volumes daily issue from the press;
   My pile of unread books I view aghast.
The prospect is disheartening, I confess;
   Why will these modern authors write so fast?
My pile of unread books I view aghast—
   Of course I must keep fairly up to date—
Why will these modern authors write so fast?
   They seem to get ahead of me of late.
Of course I must keep fairly up to date;
   The books of special merit I must read;
They seem to get ahead of me of late,
   Although I skim them very fast indeed.
The books of special merit I must read;
   And then the magazines come round again;
Although I skim them very fast indeed,
   I can’t get through with more than eight or ten.
And then the magazines come round again!
   How can we stem this tide of printer’s ink?
I can’t get through with more than eight or ten—
   It is appalling when I stop to think.
How can we stem this tide of printer’s ink?
   Of making many books there is no end.
It is appalling when I stop to think
   Each day new manuscripts are being penned!

Source: She Wields a Pen: American Women Poets of the Nineteenth Century(University of Iowa Press, 1997)

Carolyn Wells

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