Saturday, October 27, 2012

The Book Fairies Strike Again

Edna St. Vincent Millay
photo by Arnold Genthe
I don't have anything against poetry, I just don't read it very often. As I look at my bookshelves I see a couple of books by Mary Oliver and a small edition of Walt Whitman poems. The Whitman volume is published by Everyman's Library and is one in its Pocket Poets series.

I love the size. I fits comfortably in my hands and even has its own yellow ribbon bookmark.

This leads me to tell you that yesterday I visited Poor Richard's Bookstore in Frankfort, Kentucky. It is a grand bookstore across from the Old Capitol building downtown. Shelves stretch up the high ceilings, ladders stand at the ready to help reach for the highest placed volume, and new and used books sit side by side. Through a doorway, a coffee shop beckons with soft leather chairs and low tables and more books. 

There is even a second floor, an attic really, that holds scads of old books. Books that are somewhat beyond used but treasures just the same. I have visited the attic on a previous visit, but I didn't climb the stairs this time. As we were only passing through town, I just had a short minute to browse and said out loud to Rose, my traveling companion, "I will not buy a book today."

Hah! That of course tempted the Book Fairies to prove me wrong and within minutes I had a book in my hand. Another in the series of Pocket Poets. This one: Edna St. Vincent Millay.

On the cover is a wonderfully evocative sepia photo of a young Ms. Millay standing among what look to be the branches of a tulip tree full of white blossoms. Her dark hair is pulled back into a soft bun and she is wearing a linen dress with a white collar and white buttons which I will just bet you are made of mother of pearl. The photo was taken in 1914 by one Arnold Genthe. 

This jacket photo alone was worth the price of the book - a mere $13.50 - but as I look at the receipt, I see I was charged $15.50. Oh, well. Poor Richard is two dollars richer.

I do believe I will enjoy reading Ms. Millay. She won the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry in 1923 and is the author of the following familiar lines:

My candle burns at both ends;
It will not last the night;
But ah, my foes, and oh, my friends --
It gives a lovely light!

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