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Archive for November 25th, 2008

November 25th, 2008 • Posted in Authors and Books

The Book Collector by Tim Bowling


Received this irresistible little volume in the mail today from Nightwood Editions. The title poem is dedicated to famed young book collector Harry Elkins Widener (1885-1912) who drowned on the Titanic in April 1912. (Derick Dreher, Director of the Rosenbach Museum in Philadelphia spoke about Harry to me in a recent interview here if you’d care to listen). Here’s a excerpt from Tim Bowling’s poem The Book Collector:

Young Mr. Widener, Sir,
you didn’t go back for the book,
you didn’t even think of it
or of Shakespeare of Gutenberg
as the ship tilted like a parched throat
beneath a cracked glass. Romance
is a luxury of the living and you were several staircases down on your way to death,
and we who have made a start behind you,
gathering and spending, turning the rare pages
with delight, shelving and reshelving the accumulated wisdom
of the world, adherents
to the faith in permanence,
sniff the Alexandrian smoke
and turn over in our first-class berths
and steerage bunds or play another hand of poker
as the lights flicker
and at last go out.