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THE SERVICE OF BOOKS

Reading brings to you a threefold joy: the power to enter through the imagination, into the experiences of men on this earth in times and places remote from your daily experience; the power to gain for yourself something of the accumulated wisdom of the ages; and the awakening of your feelings and your senses to the beauty of nature and of the world in which we live. Books are not our only sources of these experiences, fui a man may gain a wider experience than his own by listening to the talk of men who have had rich and varied experience, may gain wisdom by association with men of wisdom, may realize the beauty of the brook or the flower, of woodland and prairie, of mountain and sea, through direct association with nature. But even if a person's experience is singularly varied, so that he not only gains through travel a wide knowledge of men and their deeds, but also knows intimately many far-travelers and men of action, and even if, in addition to the wisdom to be gained from men and through his own experience, he possesses keen sight, sharp perception of beauty, and intimate knowledge of nature, his life will be limited unless he possesses also rich stores garnered from his reading. Through reading, he lives more lives than one.

Furthermore, it is not necessary that the reading from which we gain this extended experience should be limited to what we call literature. In a sense, anything written or printed is literature. That is what the word means. Literature is that which is expressed in permanent or semi-permanent form, as distinguished from that which is merely spoken. The ballad, a song-story, was repeated from generation to generation by word of mouth, changing in details of language and incident in the process; when it was written down and then printed, it became fixed, became literature. So also the traveler may tell you of his adventures, may tell audiences in many cities his adventures; when he writes his story and it is published as a book, it becomes literature.

As a matter of fact, however, the word "literature” is more strictly limited. We have seen that it is the matter of permanent record that distinguishes the book or the printed story from mere tradition. But thousands of books are printed that find a few readers for a time, and then are as completely forgotten as if they had been merely words spoken in casual conversation. Many things are printed, also, which are not intended to have permanence, such as the newspaper stories of daily happenings in the city or the world. The newspaper adds greatly to this power of projecting our experience over space and time. One knows about battles half a world away, almost as soon as they occur, or about a new discovery, or about a great storm or earthquake or fire or pestilence, about a successful exploring expedition, or a new remedy for disease, or the triumph of a great man. But these records are of a day; literature is for all time. It has a different permanence from that of printed paper. The newspaper story may possess it, if it secures the conditions on which permanence rests. Literature, then, in the sense in which we use the term here, means not merely that which is printed in contrast to that which is spoken. It means the expression of the facts of life, or of the interpretation of life, or of the beauty of life, in language of such enduring charm that men treasure it and will not let it die.

Facts, interpretation, beauty-these are the materials from which literature is made. To them must be added the test of expression through which the experience, the meaning, and the emotion of the moment are held fast. So held, that which else would be transitory becomes a permanent part of that wider experience of the race which abides through centuries and empires and generations of men.

THE NATURE OF POETRY Let us examine these materials more closely. And first let us draw our examples from poetry, since at first glance that which is expressed in the form of verse seems to be what we should call literature. Before you read any farther, suppose you ask yourself why this is so. You think, perhaps, that it is because of the rime, because each line begins with a capital letter, or because the words seem to dance along. It's not the way people

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