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Ode to a Public Library


(Note: Highly adapted from “Ode to a Grecian Urn“…Enjoy!)

Thou still unsullied haven of quietness, 
  Thou mother of Silence and slow Time,
Guardian of History, who canst thus express 
  A fantastical tale of adventurous exploits:
What glorious legends haunt thy stacks 
  Of deities or mortals, or of both,
    In New York or Seattle or Picadilly?
  What men or gods are these? what maidens loth? 
What mad pursuit? What struggle to escape?
   What pipes and timbrels? What wild ecstasy?

Books read are sweet, but those unread 
  Are sweeter; therefore, ye writers, write on;
Not to the curious eye, but, more endear'd, 
  Look to the oft-read lines of no tome:
Fair library, beneath the trees, thou canst not leave 
  Thy books, nor ever can those stacks be bare;
    Bold book-giver, never, never canst thou fail, 
Though funds may run low--yet, do not grieve;
  Books cannot fade, though thou hast not thy capital, 
    For ever wilt thou remain, and still be there!

Ah, happy, happy genres! That cannot shed 
  Your tropes, nor ever bid the library adieu;
And, happy bestsellers, unwearied,
  For ever spinning lines for ever new;
More happy library! More happy, happy place! 
  For ever warm and still to be enjoy'd,
    For ever open, and for ever full to the brim; 
All watchful human eyes far above,
  That leaves a heart full of immortal lines, 
    An anxious pulse, and a critical eye.Who are these coming to the library? 
  To what reader's altar, O mysterious librarian,
Lead'st thou that reader gaping at the stacks, 
  And all her eager hands with arms outstretched?
What little town by river or sea shore, 
  Or mountain-built with peaceful citadel,
    Is emptied of this folk, this pious morn? 
And, little town, thy streets for evermore
  Will silent be; and not a soul to tell 
    Why thou art desolate, can e'er return.O promising shape! Fair attitude! With hopes 
  Of novels long and plots enthralling,
With long halls and the trodden carpets; 
  Thou, silent library, dost tease us out of boredom
As doth eternity: Warms library!
  When old age shall this generation waste, 
    Thou shalt remain, in midst of other woe
Than ours, a friend to man, to whom thou say'st,
  'Books are truth, truth books'--that is all 
    Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.
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