Eugene Field

(2 September 1850 - 4 November 1895 / St Louis / Missouri / United States)

Dibdin's Ghost - Poem by Eugene Field

Dear wife, last midnight, whilst I read
The tomes you so despise,
A spectre rose beside the bed,
And spake in this true wise:
'From Canaan's beatific coast
I 've come to visit thee,
For I am Frognall Dibdin's ghost,'
Says Dibdin's ghost to me.

I bade him welcome, and we twain
Discussed with buoyant hearts
The various things that appertain
To bibliomaniac arts.
'Since you are fresh from t' other side,
Pray tell me of that host
That treasured books before they died,'
Says I to Dibdin's ghost.

'They 've entered into perfect rest;
For in the life they 've won
There are no auctions to molest,
No creditors to dun.
Their heavenly rapture has no bounds
Beside that jasper sea;
It is a joy unknown to Lowndes,'
Says Dibdin's ghost to me.

Much I rejoiced to hear him speak
Of biblio-bliss above,
For I am one of those who seek
What bibliomaniacs love.
'But tell me, for I long to hear
What doth concern me most,
Are wives admitted to that sphere?'
Says I to Dibdin's ghost.

'The women folk are few up there;
For 't were not fair, you know,
That they our heavenly joy should share
Who vex us here below.
The few are those who have been kind
To husbands such as we;
They knew our fads, and did n't mind,'
Says Dibdin's ghost to me.

'But what of those who scold at us
When we would read in bed?
Or, wanting victuals, make a fuss
If we buy books instead?
And what of those who 've dusted not
Our motley pride and boast,
Shall they profane that sacred spot?'
Says I to Dibdin's ghost.

'Oh, no! they tread that other path,
Which leads where torments roll,
And worms, yes, bookworms, vent their wrath
Upon the guilty soul.
Untouched of bibliomaniac grace,
That saveth such as we,
They wallow in that dreadful place,'
Says Dibdin's ghost to me.

'To my dear wife will I recite
What things I 've heard you say;
She 'll let me read the books by night
She 's let me buy by day.
For we together by and by
Would join that heavenly host;
She 's earned a rest as well as I,'
Says I to Dibdin's ghost.


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Poem Submitted: Friday, April 9, 2010



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