Standard English Poems: Spenser to Tennyson

While searching through the PR section of the library catalog for the Booktraces assignment, I stumbled upon this collection of poems selected and edited by Henry S. Pancoast. It was published in New York in 1899 by Henry Holt & Company. There wasn’t much of anything written throughout the actual pages of the book, but the both inside covers and the pages immediately following or proceeding were filled with quotes and poems from various sources.

booktraces 1

Pasted onto the inside cover are an introduction to a poem by Miss Anna Bartlett Warner and the poem itself, which begins, “It seems so strange to think of days when I shall not be here…” Both excerpts appear to be typewritten.

On the opposite page, the name Amy L. Abel is written in ink. The small “’10” beside it was interesting – especially considering that at least one of the poems its owner inscribed in the book is from 1915. As a quick analysis of the handwriting still heavily suggests that it originates in the correct time period, it can be assumed that Ms. Abel wrote in the book on more than one occasion.

booktraces 2

Two quotes from James R. Lowell’s “The Present Crisis” are written on the next page:

Once to every man and nation comes the moment to decide
In the strife of truth with falsehood, for the good or evil side
Some great cause, God’s new Messiah, offering each the bloom or blight,
Parts the goats upon the left hand, and the sheep upon the right
And the choice goes on forever, ‘twixt that darkness and that light.”

Truth forever on the scaffold, wrong forever on the throne
Yet that scaffold sways the future, and behind the dim unknown,
Standeth God within that shadow, keeping watch above his own.”

booktraces 3

A quote from Rudyard Kipling’s “When Earth’s Last Picture is Painted” is written on the third to last page:

When the Earth’s last picture is painted and the tubes are twisted and dried
When the oldest colors have faded and the youngest critic has died
We shall rest, and faith, we shall need it – lie down for an aeon or two
Till the Master of all good workmen shall put us to work anew
And only the Master shall praise us, and only the Master shall blame:
And no one shall work for money, and no one shall work for fame
But each for the joy of the working and each, in his separate star,
Shall drawing the thing as he sees it for the God of things as they are!

booktraces 4

A quote by Samuel Johnson is written on the back of the previous page:

A book should either help us to enjoy life or endure it.”

The Johnson quote is followed by one by Agnes Repplier:

Character, not intellect, ensures victory in the long, hard battle of life and is the open sesame to our tired hearts.”

booktraces 5

The war poem “In Flanders Fields” by John McCrae is inscribed on the opposite page and continues onto the next:

In Flanders fields, the poppies blow,
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amidst the guns below.

We are the dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe!
To you, from failing hands, we throw
The torch. Be yours to lift it high!
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, tho poppies blow
In Flanders fields.”

Beneath the poem is a description of the author:

Lieut. Col. John McCrea (sp), a physician in Canada before the war. While serving in the second battle of Ypres an inspiration to write came.”

Overall, it was very interesting to see what quotations the owner of this book found important or relevant to inscribe. Especially since they vary so much in nature: from hymnal verses to a poem from World War I. Unfortunately, a google search of Ms. Abel’s name didn’t yield any specific results. I admire her purpose, though – at least the one I can guess. She wrote no dedication, so it seems that all this transcribing was for herself. It’s something I would do in my own books (and something I definitely do in my favorite, very marked-up book).


Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s