In books lies the soul


My library shelves are stacked with my favorite books — some old, some new, all of them wonderful. There’s a bit of something mysterious in this photo, if you’ll take a closer look, and that’s why I’m posting the following quote today:

In books lies the soul of the whole Past Time:
the articulate, audible voice of the Past,
when the body and material substance of it
has altogether vanished like a dream.

~Thomas Carlyle, (1795 – 1881), Scottish philosopher

12 thoughts on “In books lies the soul

  1. is the mystery in the way louisa may alcott’s face is reflected in the binding of the book with gold-leafed edging. AND do i see floating stars across your page as i sit here typing? it’s either shooting stars, or tumbling snowflakes but it is wonderful……
    (and, shhh, thank you, she types in a whisper, for the glorious eye-misting company.)
    i was just MELTING over jane kenyon this morning. here’s why:

    Let Evening Come
    Let the light of late afternoon
    shine through chinks in the barn, moving
    up the bales as the sun moves down.

    Let the cricket take up chafing
    as a woman takes up her needles
    and her yarn. Let evening come.

    Let dew collect on the hoe abandoned
    in long grass. Let the stars appear
    and the moon disclose her silver horn.

    Let the fox go back to its sandy den.
    Let the wind die down. Let the shed
    go black inside. Let evening come.

    To the bottle in the ditch, to the scoop
    in the oats, to air in the lung
    let evening come.

    Let it come, as it will, and don’t
    be afraid. God does not leave us
    comfortless, so let evening come.

    Source: Let Evening Come: Poems (Graywolf Press, 1990)

    • In answer to your question, the face you see reflected graces the cover of Year of Wonders by Geraldine Brooks. Year of Wonders isn’t visible in this photo, because it’s stacked behind Eden’s Outcasts. One day I was daydreaming beside my library shelves in the sunroom. I glanced up and saw this sweet face (which is meant to be Anna Frith) reflected in the pages of my copy of James Audubon’s Birds of America, and I nearly jumped. She truly seems to be peeping out from the pages of the past, doesn’t she? (The original painting, I have discovered, is by Frederic Lord Leighton, and is called Amarilla.)

      About the snowflakes: They could be a WordPress gift! Snowflakes tumbled across my page all during the month of January, when I first began blogging! Wish I could have that feature all year: snowflakes in winter, raindrops in spring, petals in summer, and leaves in fall.

      And yes, you’re in very good company here on my shelves, my sweet! You’re right where you belong.

      I share with you a great love of Let Evening Come. Twists the heart, doesn’t it? Thank you for including it here. I recently purchased a posthumous collection of Jane’s essays, interviews, the Ahkmatova translations, and newspaper columns — the book is entitled A Hundred White Daffodils. Have you read it? If not, I highly recommend it. Her prose is as elegant as her poetry — I’m absolutely mad about her! xoxo

  2. I wish you were my neighbor and we could swap books and talk about them. I also have those Jane Kenyon and Mary Oliver volumes, and Eden’s Outcasts — am going now to look up Leavings and Slowing Time. This picture and the snowflakes was the best part of a tough day! Thank you!

    • Well, we actually are neighbors, if we consider the ether as our virtual backyard fence! It’s a true joy to swap titles with you, Jeannine! I know you’ll enjoy Leavings — it’s quintessential Berry — and I think you’ll also love the poetic, soulful offerings in Barbara Mahany’s Slowing Time. Would love to hear what you think about it! I’m savoring every word.

      So glad this post resonated with you today — thank you for letting me know! I’m smiling. It’s nice being your neighbor! xox

      • Amy, just ordered Slowing Time. I loved a book by Christine McEwan on Time that showed up near it. Think you would, too! Yes, glad to be ether neighbors, and loved the picture peek onto your shelf!

      • Oh, I’m delighted to hear you’ve ordered Slowing Time!! It’s a bona fide treasure. And thank you for the recommend of Christine McEwan’s book — I’ll look into it! This is fun! xo

  3. How honored I am to find Magical Journey on this shelf of treasured titles. There’s no one I’d rather keep company with than Jane Kenyon and Mary Oliver. Thank you, dear Amy, for creating this literary tableau and for including me alongside these kindred souls. So glad you found Slowing Time, too. Yes, a gem indeed.

    • Each unique voice represented here is dear to my heart: kindred, cherished souls all, yes, and each one in particular. Lovely to hear from you, my friend. xox

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