Foulke Sonnet

William Dudley Foulke, in addition to being a lawyer and civil service reformer, wrote poetry, and this sonnet was perfect for the library.  His wife, Mary Reeves Foulke, donated this bronze plaque to the library and dedicated it in 1916 in honor of the Centennial of Indiana's statehood and to honor her husband's life of public service.

                   In the Public Library

 Whatever be thy fortune or thy state
           
The way to high companionship is free;
Here they all – the wise, the good, the great –
            And their best thoughts they offer unto thee;
How canst thou give thy life to sordid things
            While Milton’s strains in rhythmic numbers roll,
Or Shakespeare probes thy heart, or Homer sings,
            Or rapt Isaiah wakes thy slumbering soul?
If these “King’s Treasuries” were scant and rare
            How wouldst thou yearn for all that they contain!
But they are spread before thee free as air,
            And shall their priceless jewels shine in vain?
The choice is thine, the fancies of a day,
            Or the bright gems that shall endure for aye.