I've been reading the Encyclopedia of Tarot Volume 1 by U.S. Games Systems founder Stuart R. Kaplan, and, quite frankly, I am surprised at how absorbing, fascinating and engaging the materal is (this from one who dislikes history, I admit!). One of the gems in ths book is the poem Ode by Mr. Kaplan:
In this ode to ancient tarot cards
I touch with care new friendships painted
on pasteboard faces drawn
during man’s obscure dawn.
The single-ended carnival figures
clad in full-length costumes conceal
the profound knowledge of antiquity.
Each gamester skillfully plays
with the arcane figures at his command.
The fanciful trickster separates
the fool from his money while
the wicked fortune-teller
with astonishing accuracy lays bare
the great prophecies of life.
As one card falls another
dares to take its place
much like the evolution of life itself.
The relentless processional
out of the past
unmasks each symbol of the present
and portends the limits which exist in
Despite the sly tricksters,
the crafty gamblers,
none can answer the simplest of arcane questions,
whether the Major and Minor Arcana
were created together,
or took form each born of separate genius.
One yearns to discover
the ingenious mind that started it all.
What chance to find
face to face the wit who wrote
life is but a game of cards.
Instead we resign ourselves to accept
the allegorical pictures which we do not
Beautiful cardboard face
I love you as an old friend
despite your unyielding guard
of the symbols shrouded
in the mysterious tarot pack
that beguile and defy us all.
Stuart R. Kaplan
The ISBN for The Encylopedia of Tarot Volume 1 is 0-913866-11-3, available at your favorite bookstore or retailer. If you don't see it, just ask.
The Emperor card at top is a stylized rendition of Stuart R. Kaplan himself, as painted by Domenico Balbi in the Balbi Tarot pack (an interesting tidbit found in Volume 1, along with a full-page grayscale replica of the card).
— Janet, Social Media Maven for U.S. Games Systems, Inc.