Verse > Anthologies > Alfred H. Miles, ed. > Women Poets of the Nineteenth Century
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Alfred H. Miles, ed.  Women Poets of the Nineteenth Century.  1907.
 
Leaves of Life (1888)
II. Among His Books
By Edith (Nesbit) Bland (1858–1924)
 
A SILENT room—gray with a dusty blight
            Of loneliness;
A room with not enough of life or light
            Its form to dress.
 
Books enough though! The groaning sofa bears        5
            A goodly store—
Books on the window-seat, and on the chairs,
            And on the floor.
 
Books of all sorts of soul, all sorts of age,
            All sorts of face—        10
Black-letter, vellum, and the flimsy page
            Of commonplace.
 
All bindings, from the cloth whose hue distracts
            One’s weary nerves,
To yellow parchment, binding rare old tracts        15
            It serves—deserves.
 
Books on the shelves, and in the cupboard books,
            Worthless and rare—
Books on the mantelpiece—where’er one looks
            Books everywhere!        20
 
Books! books! the only things in life I find
            Not wholly vain.
Books in my hands—books in my heart enshrined—
            Books in my brain.
 
My friends are they: for children and for wife        25
            They serve me too;
For these alone, of all dear things in life,
            Have I found true.
 
They do not flatter, change, deny, deceive—
            Ah no—not they!        30
The same editions which one night you leave
            You find next day.
 
You don’t find railway novels where you left
            Your Elzevirs!
Your Aldines don’t betray you—leave bereft        35
            Your lonely years!
 
And yet this common book of Common Prayer
            My heart prefers.
Because the names upon the fly-leaf there
            Are mine and hers.        40
 
It’s a dead flower that makes it open so—
            Forget-me-not—
The Marriage Service … well, my dear, you know
            Who first forgot.
 
Those were the days when in the choir we two        45
            Sat—used to sing—
When I believed in God, in love, in you—
            In everything.
 
Through quiet lanes to church we used to come,
            Happy and good,        50
Clasp hands through sermon, and go slowly home
            Down through the wood.
 
Kisses? A certain yellow rose no doubt
            That porch still shows,
Whenever I hear kisses talked about        55
            I smell that rose!
 
No—I don’t blame you—since you only proved
            My choice unwise,
And taught me books should trusted be and loved,
            Not lips and eyes!        60
 
And so I keep your book—your flower—to show
            How much I care
For the dear memory of what, you know,
            You never were.
 
 
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