As I was growing up, books and reading formed an important part of my life. In fact, I was surrounded by books. My father was a bibliophile, my mother was not far from becoming one and I must confess that now, I too almost fit that description.
From my father I inherited a love of the classics, Roman and ancient Greek history, biographies, poetry and, dare I say it, Shakespeare .
From my mother I inherited a love of novels, particulalry where mystery and crime were the theme with a good plot and, poetry.
Even with the advent of ebooks, ipads and the like, the printed volume remains my reading choice, particularly when travelling or relaxing.
Poetry has always been a source of great pleasure for me, particularly the works of the great Australian bush poets of whom I intend to make the subject of a future post.
British poets, and to some extent those hailing from the United States have also fascinated and enthralled me and that brings me to todays heading.
A few nights ago I was watching a program from the BBC about a couple who were roaming through Shropshire looking to purchse a property to turn into a bed and breakfast.
As the show progressed and more of the delightful Shropshire countryside was revealed, I remembered how much I enjoyed A.E.Houseman’s poetry, particularly,’ A Shropshire Lad.’
I knew that somewhere in my collection I had a copy of his ‘Collected Poems’ that contained the poem, ‘A Shropshire Lad,’ and I set about to locate it.
Lo and behold, find it I did, a 1961 edition of ‘The Penguin Poets’, priced at five shillings and sixpence, tucked away on the top shelf of one of my book cases.
Now 1961 was an important year for me at it was my 21st birthday year and making the purchase of ‘A Shropshire Lad’ way back then must have had some significnce for me but if that was so, I can’t recall what that may have been.
Anyway, I skipped straight to reread the various sections that comprise the whole poem and I was horrified to find that page 38 was dog eared.
I’d learned from a very early age that a book lover would never, never, stoop to dog earing a page. That’s what bookmarks are for.
Here’s the offending page, image courtesy of my iPhone taken just a few moments ago.
The discovery of the unwanted dog ear gave me cause to wonder if any other pages had been so damaged and how it had occurred.
As a result I returned to the very first page of the book and made another discovery.
Here it is, courtesy of the iPhone taken just few moments ago:
Now to save you searching for a copy of ‘A Shropshire Lad,’ I took the liberty of photographing, again with my iPhone, pages 38 and 43 and here they are in sequence:
Once again I was presented with something I would never do nor encourage others to do and that is make notations on a book’s pages or underline.
Now I often lend books to friends and in recent years I’ve kept a basic list of the names of individuals to whom I’ve loaned a book or books.
But way back when? In those days I always relied on my memory.
Here we are in 2018, fifty seven years after I purchased the book.
Who is ‘Carole?’ I haven’t the slightest idea. I can only surmise that ‘Carole’ was a close friend to whom I had loaned the book. Perhaps the two stanzas on page 43 are indicators of this. The second last line on page 38 indicates that I may have been twenty two at the time of the loan.
I guess when one is young and green, Houseman’s lines,
‘ And now the fancy passes by,
And nothing will remain,’
are true indeed.
Perhaps being unable to remember can be a good thing.
One interesting memory that has come back to me after this little exercise is Palonius’s advice to his son Laertes in Shakespeare’s Hamlet:
‘Never a borrower nor a lender be for loan oft loses both itself and friend and borrowing dulls the edge of husbandry.’
Hoo roo for now.