New York: H. Ingalls Kimball, 1899. First Edition. Hardcover. 8vo. (7 7/8" x 5 3/8"). Yellow, cloth-covered boards with spine label with black lettering faded, and paste-on label with title and author, to front board. Boards smudged all around. All edges untrimmed. Tightly bound, no markings. 210 pp. Printed by the Cheltenham Press, New York. Uncommon piece of N'Yorkiana. Very Good. Item #73463
A collection of poems about New York City -- sketches in verse, really, by Major, a minor poet from Brooklyn, who nonetheless closely observed and as chronicler-on-the-street, poetically evoked the Brooklyn streets at the cusp of the 19th & 20th centuries. - its characters, their lingo and patois, their daily lives and livelihoods, above board and below. Major was a man-on-the-street reporter of daily life in this New York enclave, and called it as he saw it, and as well as his
natural allotment of poetic gifts would permit. Nonetheless, for bibliophiliacs and their particular brand of addictive pathology, Mr. Major, nailed it:
ON BUYING BOOKS (excerpts)
"The thirst for drink, teetotallers think,
Is most to be deplored --
And some folks say the love of play
Is equally abhorred
And other men assert, again,
The race-horse is a curse,
But my wife looks on buying books
As quite as bad, or worse.
"There is myself, most wretched elf --
At least she says she thinks
I'm never broke from chew or smoke
Or putting down of drinks;
But, oh, what tin I have blown in
A bibliomaniac spree,
When she, she swore, was dying for
Some new-seen jewelry
"How can you be so hard to me,
Her eye with tears o'erflows;
"Oh, oh, you brute, see this old suit, And Arthur needs new clotehse;
And Harold stews at these poor shoes,
And Ethel's hat's a sight --
I'd blush to meet her in the street,
And Lizzie looks a fright.
"But you don't care what things we wear,
How shabby we may look,
Nor h ow disgraced, so you can waste
The money on a book.
A cloak with beads Maria needs
She's worn this one two years,
And little Bas, the darling was
So shamed he burst in tears...
"When I am dead and gone you'll wed,
Of course she'll be a saint --
But she'll not bear old clothes to wear,
Like me, without comoplaint.
No, no; you'll find, though I was blind,
You then will have a spouse,
Who'll have her rights when you sneak nights,
With more books into the house.
"Such books, indeed, that none can read,
In some outlandish speech --
And one won't do, you must have two,
Or three, or four, of each.
Good Lord, if I should dare to buy
A dress or two to spare,
You'd grumble why a childd or I
Should need so much to wear..."