12 Beautiful Poems for Book Lovers

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There are volumes of poetic tributes honoring love, nature, and even death, but books have frequently been a poet’s greatest muse. These deliciously meta verses reveal the magic, wisdom, and imagination that books offered each author — an intimate and endearing view most lovers of literature can relate to. We collected odes to books by 12 different writers who unabashedly shared their mutual adoration for the greatest form of the written word. Melt your heart with these literary verses, below.

“There is No Frigate Like a Book (1286),” by Emily Dickinson

Short, sweet escapism:

There is no Frigate like a Book To take us Lands away Nor any Coursers like a Page

(read the rest here)

“Notes on the Art of Poetry,” by Dylan Thomas

The Welsh writer waxes lyrical about the “delight and glory and oddity and light” between pages:

I could never have dreamt that there were such goings-on in the world between the covers of books, such sandstorms and ice blasts of words, such staggering peace, such enormous laughter, such and so many blinding bright lights, splashing all over the pages

(read the rest here)

“And Yet the Books,” by Czesław Miłosz

The politically-minded poet gets personal about the enduring power of books:

And yet the books will be there on the shelves, separate beings, That appeared once, still wet As shining chestnuts under a tree in autumn, And, touched, coddled, began to live In spite of fires on the horizon, castles blown up, Tribes on the march, planets in motion.

(read the rest here)

“Ode to the Book,” by Pablo Neruda

The Chilean poet advises that books invite new possibilities, but we should never forget that wisdom is also gained from experience:

When I close a book I open life. I hear faltering cries among harbours.

(read the rest here)

“The Land of Story-books,” by Robert Louis Stevenson

The magic of books as seen through a child’s eyes:

At evening when the lamp is lit, Around the fire my parents sit; They sit at home and talk and sing, And do not play at anything.

Now, with my little gun, I crawl All in the dark along the wall, And follow round the forest track Away behind the sofa back.

There, in the night, where none can spy, All in my hunter’s camp I lie, And play at books that I have read Till it is time to go to bed.

(read the rest here)

“The Prelude (Book Fifth — Books),” by William Wordsworth

An epic poem that frames books as doors to dream worlds and autobiographical reflections:

While listlessly I sate, and, having closed The book, had turned my eyes toward the wide sea. On poetry and geometric truth, And their high privilege of lasting life, From all internal injury exempt, I mused; upon these chiefly: and at length, My senses yielding to the sultry air, Sleep seized me, and I passed into a dream.

(read the full poem here)

We couldn’t choose a favorite between these charming Robert William Service poems — one of which laments that the writer never has enough time to read as much as he’d like (i.e. all the time):

“Bookshelf,” by Robert William Service

I like to think that when I fall, A rain-drop in Death’s shoreless sea, This shelf of books along the wall, Beside my bed, will mourn for me.

(read the rest here)

“Book Lover,” by Robert William Service

I keep collecting books I know I’ll never, never read; My wife and daughter tell me so, And yet I never head. “Please make me,” says some wistful tome, “A wee bit of yourself.” And so I take my treasure home, And tuck it in a shelf.

And now my very shelves complain; They jam and over-spill. They say: “Why don’t you ease our strain?” “some day,” I say, “I will.” So book by book they plead and sigh; I pick and dip and scan; Then put them back, distrest that I Am such a busy man.

(read the rest here)

“I Like Your Books,” by Charles Bukowski

A reader stops Bukowski (his literary alter ego, Henry Chinaski) in line at the racetrack to tell him he likes his books, but the writer gives the guy the cold shoulder:

In the betting line the other day man behind me asked, “are you Henry Chinaski?”

“uh huh,” I answered.

“I like your books,” he went on.

(read the rest here)

“Where My Books Go,” by William Butler Yeats

The bookish W. B. wants us to know we need books, but more specifically, we need his books:

All the words that I utter, And all the words that I write, Must spread out their wings untiring, And never rest in their flight

(read the rest here)

“Old Books,” by Margaret Widdemer

The Pulitzer Prize-winning poet reminds us that books are the best kind of soul medicine:

The people up and down the world that talk and laugh and cry, They’re pleasant when you’re young and gay, and life is all to try, But when your heart is tired and dumb, your soul has need of ease, There’s none like the quiet folk who wait in libraries– The counselors who never change, the friends who never go, The old books, the dear books that understand and know!

(read the rest here)

“Good Books,” by Edgar Guest

The homespun poet allows us to identify with his sheer joy and appreciation for books:

Good books are friendly things to own. If you are busy they will wait. They will not call you on the phone Or wake you if the hour is late. They stand together row by row, Upon the low shelf or the high. But if you’re lonesome this you know: You have a friend or two nearby.

(read the rest here)

“The Author to Her Book,” by Anne Bradstreet

America’s earliest poet writes about the complex emotions aroused after sending her writing out into the world. She personifies the book as a child and relates her role as author to that of a parent:

Thou ill-formed offspring of my feeble brain, Who after birth did’st by my side remain, Till snatcht from thence by friends, less wise than true, Who thee abroad exposed to public view, Made thee in rags, halting to th’ press to trudge, Where errors were not lessened (all may judge).

(read the rest here)