Thursday, January 1, 2009

"With Pipe and Book"

I'm spending part of New Year's Day combining two of my favorite activities...pipe smoking and reading. The two just naturally go together, at least for me. The pipe is a nice little background activity while reading, and has also become a way for me to focus on the book or magazine.

I'm reminded of the 19th century French poet Richard Le Gallienne's short poem, "With Pipe and Book" written ca. 1889:

With pipe and book at close of day,
Oh, what is sweeter, mortal say?
It matters not what book on knee,
Old Izaak or the Odyssey,
It matters not meerschaum or clay.

And though ones's eyes will dream astray,
And lips forget to sue or sway,
It is "enough to merely be"
With Pipe and Book.

What though our modern skies be gray,
As bards aver, I will not pray
For "soothing death" to succor me,
But ask this much, O Fate, of thee,
A little longer yet to stay
With Pipe and Book.

I've maintained a shop on CafePress for some time now, called The Erudite Outlet, specializing in designs that feature pipe and cigar quotes, and I've incorporated the last two lines of the second verse into a design, which can be seen here.

Perhaps it's because the aroma of an English tobacco reminds me vaguely of old books, I associate pipe smoking with book reading so closely. Or maybe it's the visual that Hollywood has helped to propagate of the intellectual mulling over some point while smoking a pipe.

In any case, I often smoke a pipe while reading, and right now I'm currently reading Agent Zigzag - A True Story of Nazi Espionage, Love, and Betrayal by Ben Macintyre. With the pacing and character development of a novel, Macintyre tells the tale of a British double agent, spying on the Germans while ostensibly spying on the Allies and conducting acts of sabotage in England. An excellent read, and one that goes well with smoking a pipe, preferably with some Dunhill Nightcap in it.

Leave a note and let me know what combination of book and tobacco you're enjoying!

- Bob

1 comment:

  1. Bobby!
    Love the blog and the online store! You are tech-savvy!
    Dig it!