Which library will you admire? I can guess, even if I don’t know your name.
This post is a tribute to my brother, Robert Denny Trees, who died in 1988. It’s a just uncovered poem he wrote when he was nineteen and in college.
The shelves on the wall are filled neatly, end to end:/ The books are all of even height, and bindings smoothly blend;/ I know not what’s in all of them, but my sense is keen to know/ When each is in its place and ordered row on row./ But then again on this side — gaps without a doubt,/ And that is what you’re here for; let’s have your samples out!/ Put them on the table there, where light is bright to see; / Takes taste to fit a bookshelf out, to deck it to a tee. / Ah, only the fine materials with which to cover books, /These shelves to fill quite properly for guest’s and critic’s looks.
I’ll have the black and gold, a pair, and one, I think, in blue / And later find a book to fit them; ’tis the texture and the hue/ That now I must decide upon; but only books most erudite / In classic tongue or form will fit these covers snug and tight;/ I’ll make the choice with care — an original Voltaire!/ I cannot read a word in French but find the forms most fair./ And, Salesman, look at that shelf, dressed in somber black,/ Works of all great masters, every foreign speech – / minds me of another tack./
A college friend lives down the street; he’s poorer much than I,/ And has no taste in choosing books, for a living bare gets by./ As I said, we schooled together, but I left quite before he;/ I found a better life; he stayed, nose in books, and finished his degree./ How can one appreciate books with his eyes buried inside?/ Who can compare a yellow page to a cover of gilded hide?/ If you could see his bookshelf! Do you know what he fills it with?/ Paperbacks! Just paperbacks, nothing but pulp and pith./ They’re worn and torn and scribbled in with notes on every page./ If I should find a smudge in mine . . . how could I curb my rage!
Look here how clean; the maid twice dusts them every week,/ But his paperbacks seldom seem to gather dust; I cannot explain the freak./ Paperbacks! In filling shelves it’s evenness that one most naturally seeks;/ But paperbacks! No rhythm, rhyme, or order, saving gaudy rows of streaks,/ Writes? Yes, he writes; some say he’s quite widely read./ No, I’ve not read him; he’s usually out in paperbacks – enough said./ Languages? Not so many as have I; oh, the ones that he can speak?/ Well, other than English, there’s French, Latin, . . . and probably Greek./ It’s enough for me to feel them here — the noble thought and weighty fact;/ So let’s return to these noble shelves and forget the paperbacked./ Now I have said the covers –books I want; can you bring them right away?/
I’m having a party soon — Oh, you must leave? Well, send them with no delay.
by Bob Trees
(We still miss you, Bubba), Deani