“After love, book collecting is the most exhilirating sport of all.”
–A.S.W. Rosenbach

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.

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

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