The house was quiet and the world was calm.

If you are looking for a holiday gift for the bibliophiles in your life the Everyman’s Library recently published a splendid new volume in its Pocket Poets series, Books and Libraries: Poems. The 272-page anthology, with gorgeous jacket art, includes such poets as Stevens,Horace, Shakespeare, Dickinson, Borges, Angelou, and others, all paying homage to books and libraries. The book’s editor, Andrew Scrimgeour, is the Archivist Emeritus of the Society of Biblical Literature and the Dean of Libraries Emeritus of Drew University.

The poems are sorted into meaningful categories including the love of books, readers, the reading experience, discovering reading as a child, celebrating individual books and authors, libraries, librarians, writing books, and the future of books and reading, and “Marginalia.”

The lead poem in the book is “The House was Quiet and the World Was Calm” by Wallace Stevens. Stevens captures the experience of reading alone at night in a quiet house on a summer evening and becoming sublimely lost in the book.

The house was quiet and the world was calm.
The reader became the book; and summer night
Was like the conscious being of the book.
The house was quiet and the world was calm.
The words were spoken as if there was no book,
Except that the reader leaned above the page,
Wanted to lean, wanted much most to be
The scholar to whom his book is true, to whom
The summer night is like a perfection of thought.
The house was quiet because it had to be.
The quiet was part of the meaning, part of the mind:
The access of perfection to the page.
And the world was calm. The truth in a calm world,
In which there is no other meaning, itself
Is calm, itself is summer and night, itself
Is the reader leaning late and reading there.
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