Last spring, a librarian saw a little paper sculpture of a tree sitting on a table in the Scottish Poetry Library in Edinburgh. It seems like the library had gotten itself a new anonymous patron ... and thus a wonderful mystery was born:
Gorgeously crafted, it came with a gold-leafed eggshell broken in two, each half filled with little strips of paper with phrases on them. When reassembled properly, the strips became a poem about birds, "A Trace of Wings" by Edwin Morgan.
What was this?
"This is for you in support of libraries, books, words, ideas..." said a note, addressed to the Library by its twitter name "@ByLeavesWeLive". There was no artist signature, no one to thank. The staff, totally nonplussed, asked on their blog if anybody knew who made it. They described the gift as a "poetree" and waited. Nobody claimed authorship.
Then, it happened again.
And again and again ... Who had been leaving these mysterious gifts in the library?
When the Edinburgh Evening News announced that it had cracked the case, the reaction of the public was unimaginable (at least by American standards): people actually preferred that the mysterious patron remain mysterious!
Read more about the fascinating case of this literary mystery over at Robert Krulwich's blog over at NPR: http://www.npr.org/blogs/krulwich/2011/10/28/141795907/who-left-a-tree-then-a-coffin-in-the-library?ft=1&f=100