You were the rarest book of all,
for me, the ultimate edition.
Much of you had been unread
though you remained in great shape,
unfaded and unmarked.
Crisp and fine,
inscribed to me only,
a true collectible.

Bibiliophile that I am,
I had never come across
such definitive copy.
Nothing chipped or shelf-cocked
about you.
A trim folio, unpaginated,
with no slipcase.
Your spine sunned
but binding intact.

I had no blurb to go by
but dedicated myself
to your sole acquisition.
Your front matter
and end-pages skim-read
as I turned you                                                                                                                     over in my hands, savouring
each distinguishing point.
Your non-gilt edges
and errata were all forgiven.
I loved most your imprint
your laid-ins
and variant proofs.

For me, as issued,
you were First Thus.
No bookplate ever
for you, o precious tome.


To begin with, a fun exploration of the connected consciousness of book reader and collector. There is, similarly, as the metaphors pile up, a consciousness of what constitutes both special, desirable book and person. Collecting and ownership being what they are, there is also a lot to be said for the respectful and appreciative connection. There is, after all, a difference between people and things, no matter how similar they may be described.

Finally, there is an irony to that which is older or out-of-print. That book or person may turn out to be the true collectible, the worthiest goal or object of desire.

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