‘Flower Fairies Of The Autumn’ By Cicely Mary Barker


I saw this old book of 1920s, pastoral, children’s poetry at the library when the little one was getting her first library card and felt an immediate urge to get. It reminded me of some books I had had when I was young (Beatrix Potter is still a favorite of mine).

Well, my little loved it and made me finish the whole thing when we read it for her bedtime book.

She loved that the poems are called songs (though she called my singing flat). We have also been reading The Hobbit together (if it’s been a while, you, like me, may have forgotten how magnificent a tale teller and stylist he can be) and she loves the songs that appear in it and often implores me to go back and read the first two poems in that book again.

Perhaps this is a sign that I can begin to inculcate her in my love of poesy?

‘Enoch Arden’; Biblion


Biblion is a lovely used bookstore in downtown Lewes (Delaware). It has, in fact, greatly improved in its selection since the last time I visited. A little on the pricey side for a used bookstore, but not unreasonably so. Its price points were close to Riverby Books, late of Capitol Hill.

I got the Tennyson (was this a sort of textbook, originally?) and my little one got a book about a doctor to dragons and an Emily finger puppet/refrigerator magnet. I am not generally inclined to buy her toys at bookstores, but she showed me the little figure in the white dress and I guessed her identity and since she is my mother’s favorite, I submitted easily (and she also got a book of her own).

I have not read nearly as much Tennyson as I have intended to and this seemed a way to remedy that, in some small fashion.

Now this sort of narrative poem is not my usual favorite and Enoch Arden has not altered it, but Tennyson’s wild and overwrought melancholy is heady stuff and this love triangle without villains (save perhaps, the class system, after a fashion) is a fit table for cooking.

Surfacing


A beautiful book. Perhaps not as rapturously good as the Washington Post‘s review, but beautiful. A poet’s book, as befitting a collection of essays by a poet.

The tent pole pieces, which appear at the beginning (making the latter third a tad disappointing), are fabulous. They are both about visits to archaeological sites of Stone Age settlements. One is in Alaska and the results are inspiring local people to rediscover their cultural history. The other is in the Orkney Islands and is about to be destroyed by erosion. If nothing else, it makes you want to visit a dig site.

Who Will Remember?


This article was almost certainly inspired by Harold Bloom’s death (which I someone didn’t read about until several days after it happened. But it’s something I keep thinking about.

Who will read Harold Bloom in ten years? It’s a repeat of the question I asked after discovering Gore Vidal a few years after his death; and after Christopher Hitchens died. My favorite contemporary poets, too. Will their books even get a second printing?

This Thing Of Turning Old Books Into Journals Or Handbags Need To Stop


I was walking through a festival in Alexandria when I saw a book that caught my eye.

Charles Lamb’s Tales from Shakespeare.

This was the book that made his fortune and allowed him to become a full time man of letters. I was thrilled.

But no. It’s a blank journal. The old book (it must have been from the thirties or twenties, at least) has been eviscerated and the words of an important figure of the English Romantic movement, a friend of Wordsworth and Coleridge, thrown out to make room for whatever insipid thoughts contemporary humanity sees fit to record.

A bad bargain.