Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, MY UPPER SHELVES, by RICHARD EUGENE BURTON

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MY UPPER SHELVES, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Close at my feet in stolid rows they sit
Last Line: So long as love is love and blooms a sole red rose!
Subject(s): Books; Emerson, Ralph Waldo (1803-1882); Graves; Love; Poetry & Poets; Reading; Tombs; Tombstones

CLOSE at my feet in stolid rows they sit,
The grave great tomes that furnish forth my wit;
Like reverend oaks they are of Academe,
Within whose shade broods science, thought-adream.
I honor them and hearken to their lore,
And with a formal fondness view them o'er;
As ever with the wise, they have the floor!

But high on top, all other books above,
The precious pocket volumes that I love
Forgather, in a Friends' Society
Whose silences are pregnant unto me.
The poets be there, companions tried and true
On many a walk, for many a fireside brew;
The golden lays of Greece, the grace urbane
Of Roman Horace; or some later strain
From lyre Elizabethan, passion-strong;
From minnesinger or from master-song;
And down the tuneful choirs of nearer days,
The chants of Hugo, or the soulful praise
Of Wordsworth, tranced among his native fells;
The orphic art of Emerson; the wail
Of Heine, ever slave to Beauty's spells;
The voice of Tennyson in many a musing tale.
These and their fellows poise above my head,
And at their beck imperious I am led
Through all delights of living and of dead.

Less weighty, say you? All aerial things
That float on fancies or that fly on wings
Are small of bulk, and hence soar heaven-high;
They have all manner of wild sweet escapes
From bonds of earth, and so they do not die
As die these grosser, more imprisoned shapes.
My upper shelves uphold a mystic crowd,
Whose lightest word, though scarcely breathed aloud,
Will all outweigh a million folios
That groan with wisdom and with scholar-woes,
So long as love is love and blooms a sole red rose!

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