7 March 2014

The Bibliomaniac's Prayer

Eugene Field, "The Bibliomaniac's Prayer," Book-Song, ed. Gleeson White (London: Elliot Stock, 1893), pp. 52-53:
Keep me, I pray, in wisdom's way,
  That I may truths eternal seek;
I need protecting care to-day.
  My purse is light, my flesh is weak;
So banish from my erring heart
  All baleful appetites and hints
Of Satan's fascinating art —
  Of first editions and of prints.
Direct me in some godly walk
  Which leads away from bookish strife,
That I with pious deed and talk
  May extra-illustrate my life.

But if, O Lord, it pleaseth Thee
  To keep me in temptation's way,
I humbly ask that I may be
  Most notably beset to-day.
Let my temptation be a book
  Which I shall purchase, hold, and keep,
Whereon when other men shall look,
  They'll wail to know I got it cheap.
Oh, let it such a volume be
  As in rare copperplates abounds ! —
Large paper, clean, and fair to see.
  Uncut, unique — unknown to Lowndes.
Lowndes: William Thomas Lowndes' The Bibliographer’s Manual of English Literature, published in 1834.