My oldest most faithful friend. Oh dear. Where are you? I know where you were yesterday, before I decided to box the books to take to Orvieto. You were right there, almost at pillow height, next to Dylan Thomas. I empty out the box, scattering the books on the sheet of my unmade bed. I must say you, like the bed, look rather disreputable. But then when your gilt leather binding was still intact you were sitting in a room on a farm in Massachusetts, before migrating to a tiny apartment in New York City. Packed with other books and even a small box of my mother’s recipes, you eventually landed up in what used to be the chapel of a Cardinal in a hill town in Italy. Moved again to an even smaller hill town, and then into the country. You have traveled and have been loved.
Do you remember what my favorites were? Offhand lines come to me – “Wee sleekit cowerin timorous beastie “and “The best-laid schemes o’ mice an’ men Gang aft a-gley”. “O wad some power the giftie gie us To see ourselv’s as ithers see us!”. And “She was a phantom of delight” and “I wandered lonely as a cloud”. “The Assyrian came down like the wolf on the fold”. “How do I love thee? Let me count the ways,” “Once upon a midnight dreary,” and even “The Owl and the Pussy-cat went to sea in a beautiful pea-green boat”. There are so many more. “When lilacs last in the dooryard bloome’d”, “You are old, Father William,” the young man said”, “I think that I shall never see A poem lovely as a tree”, “The highwayman came riding – Riding – riding –“Tell me, dear friend, what you and I have witnessed together. And all those others. Where are they? I’ve skipped Robert Frost and Eliot. And of course Shakespeare “Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?” “The time of Year Thou May’st in Me Behold”. How true. I too am the last leaf on the bough.
So many, I could go on and on. Is there one of your pages I have never turned? Pages I shall continue to turn and delight in. I hold you dear, my friend.