Book Talking to Owner from Confinement on Shelf “A Book” poem by Edgar Guest (February 2024)

Good morning.  The beautiful silence of early morning.  No birds are even singing outside my window yet.  I always wish I could see inside their nests and watch all of the little cozy worlds within 50 feet of my door.  Awake at my window is my angel of dawn.  In the silence handing me her precious jewel of this day. 

I reread a favorite poem this week on a book on a mantelpiece talking to his/her owner in the room, offering her “jewels of wisdom and treasures” – wisdom, dreams, travel, hope, perspective.  Is there a book that looks down on you in your home, speaking the words of this poem?  Encouraging you to open his pages and unlocking his treasures?  Following the poem are thoughts on what the words within books on the shelf bring to our lives.  One book.  This one book looking down at you from a shelf may have the one paragraph with the one sentence with the one thought that may be the thought that changes your life.

I hear so often in the store, “Susan, you love to read, you have time to read…” Then the following statements of, “I don’t have time to read,” or, “I don’t like to read,” or “It’s hard for me to read.”  I am only able to offer the encouragement I state to myself.  Instead change thinking to, “My life is so short, a gift…how can I use the gift of life?  How can I develop my mind, learning from those generations before me, then giving me the ability to train my own mind and those I am with?  Continually longing for growth, filling my “chasms of time” wisely?  One chance.  Life.  One epitaph to write.  One epitaph to write tonight on our moments today.  How will we fill the “chasms of time”?

A Book by Edgar Guest (1881-1959)

“Now” – said a good book unto me –
“Open my pages and you shall see
Jewels of wisdom and treasures fine,
Gold and silver in every line,
And you may claim them if you will but will
Open my pages and take your fill.

“Open my pages and run them o’er,
Take what you choose of my golden store.
Be you greedy, I shall not care –
All that you seize I shall gladly spare;
There is never a lock on my treasure doors,
Come – here are my jewels, make them yours!

“I am just a book on your mantel shelf,
But I can be part of your living self
If only you’ll travel my pages through,
Then I will travel the world with you.
As two wines blended make better wine,
Blend your mind with these truths of mine.

“I’ll make you fitter to talk with men,
I’ll touch with silver the lines with pen,
I’ll lead you nearer the truth you seek,
I’ll strengthen you when your faith grows weak –
This place on your shelf is a prison cell,
Let me come into your mind to dwell!”

“My task, which I am trying to achieve is, by the power of the written word, to make you hear, to make you feel –it is, before all, to make you see.”  Joseph Conrad (Lord Jim)

“A drop of ink may make a million think.”  George Byron

“A book that sits on a shelf is nothing but a bundle of paper.  Unless it is opened, a book processing great power an epic story is a mere scrap of paper.  But a book that has been cherished and loved, filled with human thoughts, has been endowed with a soul.”  Sosuke Natsukawa

“Typically, if a book has one passage, one idea with the power to change a person’s life, that alone justifies reading it, rereading it, and finding room for it on one’s shelves.”  Harold Kushner (Man’s Search for Meaning)

“One child, one teacher, one book, one pen can change the world.”  Malala Yousafzai (My Name is Malala)

“Perhaps it is true that at base we readers are dissatisfied people, yearning to be elsewhere, to live vicariously through words in a way we cannot live directly through life.  Perhaps we are the world’s great nomads, if only in our minds…I am the sort of person who prefers to stay at home, surrounded by friends, familiarity, books. It turns out that when my younger self thought of taking wing, she wanted only to let her spirit soar.  Books are the plane, and the train, and the road.  They are the destination, and the journey.  They are home.”  Anna Quindlin (How Reading Changed My Life)

“That’s what I love about reading: one tiny thing will interest you in a book, and that tiny thing will lead you to another book, and another bit there will lead you onto a third book.  It’s geometrically progressive – all with no end in sight, and for no other reason that sheer enjoyment.”  Mary Ann Shaffer (The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society)

“Once you’ve read a book you care about, some part of it is always with you.”  Louis L’Amour

“Some books leave us free and some books make us free.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Once you learn to read, you will be forever free.”  Frederick Douglass

“We read to know we are not alone.”  C.S. Lewis

“One glance at a book and you hear the voice of another person, perhaps someone dead for 1,000 years.  To read is a voyage through time.”  Carl Sagan

How do we fill our “chasms of time”?  By becoming nomads.  The world’s greatest nomads are readers.  I just love that thought.  If we use two hours more productively per day – after 10 years we will have an extra 7300 hours of time we didn’t waste given to us.  That is almost one full year.  One full year to enter other worlds.  To care for others.  To travel within the pages of the books we release from the shelves. 

Thank you for letting me again enter your Thursday.  No matter your personal circumstances, never forget that we are promised a peace that passes anyone else’s understanding.  Only one drop to our knees or a glance to the heavens will give us this peace.  Look into the eyes of those we see.  Notice the smallest gifts.  Hope.  A word we will no longer need in heaven that we can continually grasp now regardless of what we have in our lives.  Thank you for your business and for coming into our little store and for bringing us your books.  These books have the words that have the ability to change the entire course of someone’s life.  Have a beautiful day.  The spring flowers are behind their curtains as I type preparing to enter our scene soon.  Susan

Those who read, those who
tell us what they read,
Those who noisily turn
the pages of their book,
Those who have power over
red and black ink,
and over pictures,
Those are the ones who lead us,
guide us, show us the way.

Aztec Codex from 1524, Vatican Archives

Latin for this week:
Legend delector – I love to read.
Legere – to read
Quae legis es – You are what you read.