Dusting my books I spent a busy day: Not ancient toes, time-hallowed and unread, but modern volumes, classics in their way, whose makers now are numbered with the dead; Men of a generation more than mine, With whom I tattled, battled and drank wine.
I worshipped them, rejoiced in their success, Grudging them not the gold that goes with fame. I thought them near-immortal, I confess, And naught could dim the glory of each name. How I perused their pages with delight! . . . To-day I peer with sadness in my sight.
For, death has pricked each to a flat balloon. A score of years have gone, they're clean forgot. Who would have visioned such a dreary doom? By God! I'd like to burn the blasted lot. Only, old books are mighty hard to burn: They char, they flicker and their pages turn.
And as you stand to poke them in the flame, You see a living line that stabs the heart. Brave writing that! It seems a cursed shame That to a bonfire it should play it's part. Poor book! You're crying, and you're not alone: Some day someone will surely burn my own.
No, I will dust my books and put them by, Yet never look into their leaves again; For scarce a soul remembers them save I, Re-reading them would only give me pain. So I will sigh, and say with curling lip: Futility! Thy name is authorship.