A scary tale of two libraries —

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



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4 Responses to “A scary tale of two libraries —”

  1. Donna Fletcher Crow Says:

    What a lovely tribute to share your brother’s poem, Radine. Not just a poem–a whole story of 2 men’s lives. Really very powerful.

  2. radine Says:

    Thank you, Donna. Finding my brother’s poem sure meant a lot to me, and, since this was many years before I became interested in writiing anything other than school work, discovering my brother had an interest in expressing himself in poetry was very nice!

  3. Brenda Says:

    Radine, how lovely! Thanks bunches for sharing this!

  4. Radine Trees Nehring Says:

    On the PBS news hour, speakers often respond to thanks from interviewers by saying “My pleasure.” This lovely response is most definitely true when people thank me for sharing my brother’s poem. My pleasure!

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