Verse > Anthologies > The World’s Best Poetry > Vol. IX. Tragedy: Humor
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Bliss Carman, et al., eds.  The World’s Best Poetry.
Volume IX. Tragedy: Humor.  1904.
 
Humorous Poems: II. Miscellaneous
The Art of Book-Keeping
Thomas Hood (1799–1845)
 
HOW hard, when those who do not wish
  To lend, thus lose, their books,
Are snared by anglers—folks that fish
  With literary hooks—
Who call and take some favorite tome,        5
  But never read it through;
They thus complete their set at home
  By making one at you.
 
I, of my “Spenser” quite bereft,
  Last winter sore was shaken;        10
Of “Lamb” I ’ve but a quarter left,
  Nor could I save my “Bacon”;
And then I saw my “Crabbe” at last,
  Like Hamlet, backward go,
And, as the tide was ebbing fast,        15
  Of course I lost my “Rowe.”
 
My “Mallet” served to knock me down,
  Which makes me thus a talker,
And once, when I was out of town,
  My “Johnson” proved a “Walker.”        20
While studying o’er the fire one day
  My “Hobbes” amidst the smoke,
They bore my “Colman” clean away,
  And carried off my “Coke.”
 
They picked my “Locke,” to me far more        25
  Than Bramah’s patent worth,
And now my losses I deplore,
  Without a “Home” on earth.
If once a book you let them lift,
  Another they conceal,        30
For though I caught them stealing “Swift,”
  As swiftly went my “Steele.”
 
“Hope” is not now upon my shelf,
  Where late he stood elated,
But, what is strange, my “Pope” himself        35
  Is excommunicated.
My little “Suckling” in the grave
  Is sunk to swell the ravage,
And what was Crusoe’s fate to save,
  ’T was mine to lose—a “Savage.”        40
 
Even “Glover’s” works I cannot put
  My frozen hands upon,
Though ever since I lost my “Foote”
  My “Bunyan” has been gone.
My “Hoyle” with “Cotton” went oppressed,        45
  My “Taylor,” too, must fail,
To save my “Goldsmith” from arrest,
  In vain I offered “Bayle.”
 
I “Prior” sought, but could not see
  The “Hood” so late in front,        50
And when I turned to hunt for “Lee,”
  O, where was my “Leigh Hunt”?
I tried to laugh, old Care to tickle,
  Yet could not “Tickell” touch,
And then, alack! I missed my “Mickle,”        55
  And surely mickle’s much.
 
’T is quite enough my griefs to feed,
  My sorrows to excuse,
To think I cannot read my “Reid,”
  Nor even use my “Hughes.”        60
My classics would not quiet lie,—
  A thing so fondly hoped;
Like Dr. Primrose, I may cry,
  My “Livy” has eloped.
 
My life is ebbing fast away;        65
  I suffer from these shocks;
And though I fixed a lock on “Gray,”
  There ’s gray upon my locks.
I ’m far from “Young,” am growing pale,
  I see my “Butler” fly,        70
And when they ask about my ail,
  ’T is “Burton” I reply.
 
They still have made me slight returns,
  And thus my griefs divide;
For O, they cured me of my “Burns,”        75
  And eased my “Akenside.”
But all I think I shall not say,
  Nor let my anger burn,
For, as they never found me “Gay,”
  They have not left me “Sterne.”        80
 
 
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