Wherein My Book Sorting Continueth: “How many branches of wax-candle light, How many drops of weary heart’s blood!

20120714-160516.jpgMy book culling goes apace.   One of the things I went through today were books on China and on poetry.  On that note, I saw this on the site of the Laudator:

A poem by Yuan Mei (1716–1797), tr. Arthur Waley:

Everything else in life is easy to break with;
Only my books are hard to leave behind.
I want to go through them all again,
But the days hurry by, and there is not time.
If I start on the Classics I shall never get to history;
If I read philosophy, literature goes by the board.
I look back at the time when I purchased them—
Thousands of dollars, I never worried about the price.
If passages were missing, the pains I took to supply them,
And to fill out sets that were incomplete!
Of the finest texts many are copied by hand;
The toil of which fell to my office clerks.
Day and night I lived with them in intimacy.
I numbered their volumes and marked them with yellow and red.
How many branches of wax-candle light,
How many drops of weary heart’s blood!
My sons and grandsons know nothing of this;
Perhaps the book-worms could tell their own tale.
Today I have had a great tidy-up,
And feel I have done everything I was born to do….
It is good to know that the people in the books
Are waiting lined up in the Land of the Dead.
In a little while I shall meet them face to face
And never again need to look at what they wrote!

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About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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12 Responses to Wherein My Book Sorting Continueth: “How many branches of wax-candle light, How many drops of weary heart’s blood!

  1. ddoyle1220 says:

    Father- I hope you are listening to some glorious Chinese Opera while going through books on China!

  2. Supertradmum says:

    I would listen to my two favorite operas: The Magic Flute (where is one when I need it) and Turandot. Bless you mucho Fr. Z, as I have been there and done that….

  3. AnAmericanMother says:

    Magic Flute is my favorite opera as well — best video, Ingmar Bergman’s (even though the score is ruthlessly cut – AND sung in Swedish, it is simply beautifully done). Best audio a little harder to decide, but I’ll go for the old EMI with Lucia Popp as the Queen and Otto Klemperer as Sarastro. 2nd place is a little tougher – any other Mozart opera? or maybe La Boheme.
    But for culling out books I need something a little spikier and aggressive — settle on Mahler’s des Knaben Wunderhorn. “Der Tambourg’sell” or “Revelge” puts me in just the right mood . . .

  4. AnnAsher says:

    Ever since the post the other day I’ve been eyeing and thumbing through the book shelves. I look at them with skepticism; the books are charismatic enemies. Until I find this treasure and that book I really want the kids to read. I dunno … There may be a whirlwind soon. I have to downsize in quick bursts, like ripping off a bandaid, or I won’t do it.

  5. ajbasso says:

    Puts me very much in mind of Washington Irving’s on the Mutability of Literature.

  6. wmeyer says:

    Fr., there is a useful rule I try to honor: What I have not unpacked in year, I can live without.

  7. wmeyer: That is precisely my approach to the next phase.

  8. wmeyer says:

    Father, it’s always my intention; not always my practice. ;)

  9. Mariana says:

    AnAmericanMother,
    I really like Håkan Hagegård as Tamino in the Bergman video!

  10. AnAmericanMother says:

    Mariana,
    Hagegård is very pleasant, and he has a lovely voice – good lyric tenor, not too heavy, not beating the vibrato completely to death. He can even act (I would expect no less from Bergman). I do like Birgit Nordin as the Queen – she nails the high F in “der hölle Rache”. Plus the moment where she is bewailing the kidnapping of Pamina, and then slyly cuts her eyes round to see how Tamino is taking it, is worth the price of admission!
    One version I found on the internet is the Paris Opera, with a very international sort of cast and very inventive staging (I could live w/out the Queen’s costume though). It’s in five parts – this is a jolly one: Part 4 . Haven’t watched it all the way through yet, but I like it.

  11. Pingback: Too Many Books? « Contemplans Aliis Tradere

  12. Msgr. Swiader’s remarks on page 2 of this week’s bulletin from St. Joseph’s Church in Garden City, New York may be relevant here. The words “travel light” have rung in my head for many years even though I have not practiced them perhaps as well as I could. In a time of persecution, which could come sooner that we like to think, we may have no choice but to travel, and travel light.