As much as by touching, reading, and simply having them near, I think any poet would gain by the calm, deliberate practice of describing the scent of old books. To describe, in essence, what can’t be described, and yet must — this is his domain and his charge; to illuminate what is haunting, yet painfully familiar — this is why she was born; and then, when she dies, to haunt the illuminated with the perfume of her words — like that arising from the plain wood of her casket, just as they lay her to rest, and she finds the book is an ark.
Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s Poetical Works.
Smith, Elder, & Co., London, 1880.
Five volumes, twelfth edition.
Covers scuffed, bindings solid.
Leather spines, five raised bands.
The ink is the blood that once warmed her hands.
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