Verse > Anthologies > T. H. Ward, ed. > The English Poets > Vol. V. Browning to Rupert Brooke
Thomas Humphry Ward, ed.  The English Poets.  1880–1918.
Vol. V. Browning to Rupert Brooke
Ballade of the Book-hunter
By Andrew Lang (1844–1912)
IN torrid heats of late July,
In March, beneath the bitter bise,
He book-hunts while the loungers fly,—
He book-hunts, though December freeze;
In breeches baggy at the knees,        5
And heedless of the public jeers,
For these, for these, he hoards his fees,—
Aldines, Bodonis, Elzevirs.
No dismal stall escapes the eye,
He turns o’er tomes of low degrees,        10
There soiled romanticists may lie,
Or Restoration comedies;
Each tract that flutters in the breeze
For him is charged with hopes and fears,
In mouldy novels fancy sees        15
Aldines, Bodonis, Elzevirs.
With restless eyes that peer and spy,
Sad eyes that heed not skies or trees,
In dismal nooks he loves to pry,
Whose motto evermore is Spes!        20
But ah! the fabled treasure flees;
Grown rarer with the fleeting years,
In rich men’s shelves they take their ease,—
Aldines, Bodonis, Elzevirs!
Prince, all the things that tease and please,—
Fame, hope, wealth, kisses, cheers and tears,
What are they but such toys as these—
Aldines, Bodonis, Elzevirs?

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