Verse > Anthologies > William Wilfred Campbell, ed. > The Oxford Book of Canadian Verse
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William Wilfred Campbell, comp.  The Oxford Book of Canadian Verse.  1913.
 
‘Eben Picken, Bookseller’
By William Douw Schuyler-Lighthall (1857–1954)
 
PICKEN of Beaver Hall, what modest hand,
Or thoughtless, wrote thy sign? ’Bookseller’ thou,
Forsooth! Though goodly word it be, and graced
By learning, honour, men of fair repute.
Not this the operation of thy days,        5
No barter thought, no views of bank account,
Silver and bills, profit, advertisement;
Not this thy avocation—but to lead
The novice soul along the temple path
To the hid shrine, the thirsty heart to find        10
Some quenching draft, the world’s delights to lift
Before the unthinking. Gentle Levite thou
Of Art and Wisdom and Humanity
And the inclusive ONE. To thee we fare
To meet the souls of poets, and converse        15
With sages, known or called from quarters strange
By thy skilled wand. That unpretentious door
Leads where wise Plato visits still the earth,
And Shakespeare calls his airy host to view:
Ah, what a world is there, delectable,        20
Serene, of perfect grace, the land of Thought!
There in their kingly ranks the Masters walk
By crocus-edged Cephisus’ sleepless stream
Along the cypress paths. There Socrates,
Virgil and Zarathustra, Francis mild,        25
Memline and Angelo and Angelico,
The bard of Faust and he of Paradise—
Heroes and saints innumerable appear,
While in their converse he who will takes part
And thou art friend and guide. Assuredly        30
’Tis blessed to be thus amid a world
Mad after fruit of ashes, running fast
Because the rest are running, blind and deaf
And needing quiet voices like to thine.
 
 
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