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The Bibliomaniac's Prayer
by
Eugene Field


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Keep me, I pray, in wisdom's way
That I may truths eternal seek;
I need protecting care to-day,--
My purse is light, my flesh is weak.
So banish from my erring heart
All baleful appetites and hints
Of Satan's fascinating art,
Of first editions, and of prints.
Direct me in some godly walk
Which leads away from bookish strife,
That I with pious deed and talk
May extra-illustrate my life.
 
But if, O Lord, it pleaseth Thee
To keep me in temptation's way,
I humbly ask that I may be
Most notably beset to-day;
Let my temptation be a book,
Which I shall purchase, hold, and keep,
Whereon when other men shall look,
They'll wail to know I got it cheap.
Oh, let it such a volume be
As in rare copperplates abounds,
Large paper, clean, and fair to see,
Uncut, unique, unknown to Lowndes.


From  A Little Book of Western Verse (Charles Scribner's Sons, 1896).
This poem is in the public domain.
Purchase a framed print of this poem.

Eugene Field (1850 –1895) was born in St. Louis, Missouri, raised in Amherst, Massachusetts, and spent most of his adult life in Chicago. Best known for his children’s poetry and humorous essays, he explored acting and law before turning to a very successful career in journalism. Eugene lost both parents before he was 20, buried three of his eight children, and died himself when he was only 45. He nonetheless seemed to have a happy and satisfying life, publishing more than a dozen books and forever endearing himself to the world’s children by penning such classic poems as “The Duel” and “Wynken, Blynken, and Nod.” Eugene’s home in St. Louis is preserved and open to the public.


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