The Desk Attendant
See the gleeful Desk Attendants ever dealing while they can
The un-inspected canned beef of the intellect of man;
Dealing out the brains of sages and the poet’s heart divine
(Receiving for said poet’s heart ofttimes a two-cent fine);
Serene amid the tumult for new novels manifold, —
For new novels out this afternoon but thirty minutes old; —
Calm and cool amid the tumult see the Desk Attendant stand
With contentment on her features and a date-stamp in her hand.
As they feed beasts at the circus to appease their hungering rage,
And her wild beasts growl in fury when they do not like her meat, —
When the sage is tough and fibrous and the bard not over-sweet;
And some retire in frenzy, lashing wrathfully about,
When the intellectual spare-rib that they most affect is out.
But she feeds ‘em, and she leads ‘em, and beguiles ‘em with sweet guile,
And wounds ‘em with her two-cent fine heals ‘em with her smile.
Oh the gleesome Desk Attendant — who shall estimate her glee?
Get some mightier bard to sing it — ‘tis a theme too big for me!
From The Song of the Library Staff by Sam Walter Foss (1906). Illustration by Merle Johnson.