Verse > Anthologies > Harriet Monroe, ed. > Poetry: A Magazine of Verse, 1912–22
Harriet Monroe, ed. (1860–1936).  Poetry: A Magazine of Verse.  1912–22.
By Carl Sandburg
IGNORANCE came in stones of gold;
The ignorant slept while the hangmen
Hanged the keepers of the lights
Of sweet stars: such were the apothegms,
Offhand offerings of mule-drivers        5
Eating sandwiches of rye bread,
Salami and onions.
“Too Many Books,” we always called him;
A landscape of masterpieces and old favorites
Fished with their titles for his eyes        10
In the upstairs and downstairs rooms
Of his house. Whenever he passed
The old-time bar-room where Pete Morehouse
Shot the chief of police, where
The sponge squads shot two bootleggers,        15
He always remembered the verse story,
The Face on the Bar-room Floor
The tramp on a winter night,
Saddened and warmed with whiskey,
Telling of a woman he wanted        20
And a woman who wanted him,
How whiskey wrecked it all;
Taking a piece of chalk,
Picturing her face on the bar-room floor,
Fixing the lines of her face        25
While he told the story,
Then gasping and falling with finished heartbeats,
And whenever he passed over the bridge at night
And took the look up the river to smaller bridges,        30
Barge lights, and looming shores,
He always thought of Edgar Allan Poe,
With a load of hootch in him,
Going to a party of respectable people
Who called for a speech,        35
Who listened to Poe recite the Lord’s Prayer,
Correctly, word for word, yet with lush, unmistakable
Intonations, so haunting the dinner-party people
All excused themselves to each other.
Whenever Too Many Books        40
Passed over the town bridge in the gloaming,
He thought of Poe breaking up that party
Of respectable people. Such was Too Many Books—
We called him that.

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