Saturday, August 25, 2012

`In These My Closing Pages'

A reader kindly informs me that books and blogs are dead. In the imminent future we will communicate exclusively with pictures, what he calls “graphix.” Words are superfluous, probably malignant and certainly boring. Language will become extinct. All of this information is communicated confidently (in words of unconventional orthography) and with evident satisfaction. “Smart people don’t read books anymore,” he concludes, though I’ll probably go on wasting my time, pretending I’m smart. Lately I’ve been reading a poet almost brand-new to me, Walter Savage Landor (1775-1864), including this epigram: 

“Idle and light are many things you see
In these my closing pages: blame not me.
However rich and plenteous the repast,
Nuts, almonds, biscuits, wafers come at last.”   

Something about the poem, perhaps the references to food, reminds me of Charles Lamb, that congenial recluse and dedicated antiquarian, who writes in a letter dated Dec. 10, 1796, to his childhood friend Coleridge:  “I can only converse with you by letter and with the dead in their books.” A month later he writes to the same correspondent: “Books are to me instead of friends.”

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