People collect all manner of antique items. Dishes, paintings, furniture. I collect old poetry books. It matters not if they are tattered, if a page here or there is stained or missing. To discover an old, overlooked book of old-fashioned rhyming poetry in some obscure second hand bookstore or hidden thrift shop is a thrill for me! As I gently blow away the dust and peruse the old pages, my heart fills with joy. I have this sensation of rediscovering something important. There’s a part of my heart that whispers to the book and its poet. . . “I found you. I love you. You are not forgotten.”
My little collection of vintage poetry is, as you can see, a rather motley looking crew of old volumes. These well worn books are not only for display but also for reading and enjoying (albeit carefully). It’s part of my pleasure to keep them from being forgotten. Here is a glimpse into one of my oldest poetry books.
Ella Wheeler Wilcox (1850-1919) was born in Johnstown, Wisconsin and her poetry was being published by the time she graduated from high school. Very popular, her poems were often written in plain, rhyming verse. My book of hers is “Poems of Pleasure” originally published in 1888. This small, soft, leather-bound book of 127 pages has a gilded design and lettering on the cover, but inside it is undated (perhaps the page is missing) however it was a gift to someone in 1921 according to the faint inscription. Regardless of its flaws and wear, and all the hands and hearts it has passed through, this beloved book now resides in my collection of very old, and deeply cherished, poetry books.
To poets and lovers of poetry everywhere, may you always be remembered.
[2017 © Professions for Peace]