Frank Dempster Sherman


The Library

by Frank Dempster Sherman

Give me the room whose every nook
Is dedicated to a book:
Two windows will suffice for air
And grant the light admission there;
One looking to the south, and one
To speed the red, departing sun.
The eastern wall from frieze to plinth
Shall be the Poet's labyrinth,
Where one may find the lords of rhyme
From Homer's down to Dobson's time:
And at the northern side a space
Shall show an open chimney-place,
Set round with ancient tiles that tell
Some legend old, and weave a spell
About the firedog-guarded seat,
Where, musing, one may taste the heat:
Above, the mantel should not lack
For curios and bric-a-brac, --
Not much, but just enough to light
The room up when the fire is bright.
The volumes on this wall should be
All prose and all philosophy,
From Plato down to those who are
The dim reflections of that star;
And these tomes all should serve to show
How much we write -- how little know;
For since the problem first was set
No one has ever solved it yet.
Upon the shelves along the west
The scientific books shall rest;
Beside them, History; above, --
Religion, -- hope, and faith, and love:
Lastly, the southern wall should hold
The story-tellers, new and old;
Haroun al Raschid, who was truth
And happiness to all my youth,
Shall have the honored place of all
That dwell upon the sunny wall;
And with him there shall stand a throng
Of those who help mankind along
More by their fascinating lies
Than all the learning of the wise.

Such be the library; and take
This motto of a Latin make
To grace the door through which I pass:
Hic habitat Felicitas!


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