Poetry: 'Truth in Its Sunday Clothes'

Article excerpt

My love of antiques has been going on for years. So the other day when I drove past an old house in the country and saw a homemade sign (sometimes the best) that read, "ANTIQUES FOR SALE," I screeched to a halt. It was a cold, windy Iowa day, but I tied a scarf over my head and joined the other devoted antiquers.

A young man was in charge of the sale. "We're cleaning out Grandpa's house before we sell the farm," he said. "Getting rid of all this old stuff."

The "old stuff" was wonderful: several old chairs with cane seats, a walnut drop-leaf table, two weathered wooden stepladders, and an old hooked rug in excellent condition. I was tempted but then - hurrah! - in the corner of an upstairs bedroom, I found a small bookcase filled with old books.

Something about the sight of old books pulls me like a magnet, and old books of poetry are especially tantalizing. I love them. Around the turn of the last century, the most cherished gift one could give a friend was a book of poetry by Shelley or Shakespeare, Bryant or Burns. Sure enough, there was a lovely, old, published-in- London book with gold lettering on a deep-blue cover: "The Poetical Works of Robert Burns." The illustrations were quaint and charming. One of the poems was, of course, "Auld Lang Syne."

I would have paid much more, but the price was $1.

Back home, I put my purchase in the basket beside my favorite chair. …