Frank Dempster Sherman


Forgotten Books

by Frank Dempster Sherman

Of books I sing, but not of those
Which any book collector knows, --
The priceless, rare editions, not, --
But volumes which the World forgot
And with them those who wrote, as well,
Before they had a chance to sell:
Ephemerals that find themselves
With the Immortals on my shelves.
I name no names, for if I should
None would recall them now, nor could
A word of mine bring any one
Out of its long Oblivion.
The ink on many fly-leaves still
Looks quite as fresh as when the quill
On each inscribed an author's name,
And signed his title there to Fame
Without one solitary fear
About its being proven clear.

One has its pages still uncut,
Clean, kept ironically shut
By him whose name therein is penned
Above: From his devoted friend.
But not infrequently I come
Across the imprint of a thumb,
Or in the paragraphs I find
A pleasing sentence underlined,
Or neatly on the margin set
A compliment in epithet:
Each one of these, I'm satisfied,
Was read before its author died.

And there is one among them all,
Morocco bound, gilt-edged, and small,
Filled with the amatory rhymes
Of ante-Tennysonian times,
Stiff in their phraseology
And rather rough in melody.
'T is Dedicated unto Her
By Her Unworthy Worshipper.

And just below is written, These
Many and pleasing Melodies,
Dear Wm. writ in '98,
and unto Me did Dedicate.

This one was read and read again,
And annotated by her pen:
And this fulfilled the Author's hopes,
Repaid the toil of all his tropes,
And had, at least his span of life,
One constant reader in his wife.


Lyrics For A Lute
Copyright 1890
Boston and New York, Houghton, Mifflin, and Company