Abashed I stand, yet eager, like Aladdin awed before
The cavern of enchantment, with darksome, magic door;
For 'mid the cloistered shadows there wait on every side
The portals of the mystic realms my word can open wide.
What need of sprite or genie? What use of lamp or ring?
I have the word that opens, the wonder-charm I bring;
I am my own magician, when, with my wand in hand,
I come a seeking pilgrim into the bookman's land.
Why pause in doubtful longing? I need but choose the gate—
I need but speak the magic word for which the hinges wait;
The door will swing obedient and open me the way
To Egypt or to Arden, to Chile or Cathay.
O covers of a wealth of books, O wizard hingèd doors,
What treasures do you lock from me, what wonder-realm is yours?
Nay, mine, all mine to conjure with, the simple A B C—
The charm I learned, a little child, beside my mother's knee.
—Abbie Farwell Brown, St. Nicholas, 1900
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
As the building blocks of language, the letters of the alphabet are our most concise magic words. Here's one of our favorite tributes to the A B C's as "open sesames" to magical worlds: